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Fox News Sunday

15 years after 9/11, are Americans more or less safe?

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," September 11, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  I’m Chris Wallace.

Fifteen years after 9/11, we'll examine the security of our homeland.  Are Americans more or less safe?  And how is it shaping the Trump/Clinton campaign?  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE:  As we pause to remember one of the darkest days in our nation's history, we get an assessment of future threats.  

JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY:  You cannot eliminate all risk, whether it is a terrorist attack or a mass shooting.  

WALLACE:  Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on keeping America safe.  

Then, a debate between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump advisor, and Congressman Xavier Becerra, a Clinton backer on which candidate is better equipped to be commander in chief.  

Plus, is Russia trying to disrupt the U.S. elections?  

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  We will not ignore attempts to interfere with our democratic processes.  

WALLACE:  We'll ask our Sunday panel what could happen in November.  

And our power player of the week, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins playing for a lot more than winning games.  

KIRK COUSINS, WASHINGTON REDSKINS QUARTERBACK:  God wired me to be a leader and to want to impact people.  

WALLACE:  All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington.  

Today marks 15 years since the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.  Once again, we pause to reflect on those who died and in less than two months, we go to the polls to choose our next commander-in-chief.  

In a moment, we'll speak with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson about the threat the nation faces now, but first we take you to Ground Zero in Manhattan where family members are reading the names of the almost 3,000 people who lost their lives that terrible day.  They're about to mark the moment when the second plane hit the World Trade Center's South Tower.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Janice Lee Blaney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Craig Michael Blass.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Rita Blau.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Richard Middleton Blood, Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Michael Andrew Boccardi.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  John Paul Bocchino.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Michael L. Bocchino.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Susan M. Bochino.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Deora Frances Bodley.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bruce Douglas Boehm.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mary Catherine Murphy Boffa.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Nicholas Andrew Bogdan.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Darren Christopher Bohan.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Lawrence Francis Bossieau.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Vincent M. Boland Jr.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Touri Bolourchi.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Alan Bondarenko.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Andre Bonheur, Jr.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Colin Arthur Bonnett.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Frank J. Bonomo.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yvonne Bonomo.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sean Booker Sr.

(BELLS CHIMING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Canfield D. Boone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  May Jane --  

WALLACE:  Earlier, I spoke with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson about the threats we still face 15 years after 9/11.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE:  Secretary Johnson, thank you for talking with us.  On this 15th anniversary of 9/11, how would you characterize the threat to the U.S. homeland right now?  

JOHNSON:  Chris, we are stronger against another 9/11 style terrorist directed attack over seas.  Our government has become pretty good at detecting something hatched from overseas, launched overseas.  Our intelligence community is pretty good at picking that up.  

Where we're challenged, however, is with the lone wolf style attack, the self-radicalized actor who is here in the homeland.  Terrorist organizations have the ability to into our home and through the Internet and recruit and inspire.  And that's a relatively new environment and requires a whole of government response.  

WALLACE:  But I want to try, if I can, sir, to break down the threat, and let me put a couple of things up on the screen.  Terrorists now have a greater safe haven in ISIS than they've had any time since 9/11. The FBI says there are more than 900 active investigations against lone wolves and other suspects in all 50 states.  A test last year found TSA screeners missed weapons 95 percent of the time.  

Last year, almost 500,000 people overstayed their visas and the number of African and Asian migrants trying to cross the border is rising.  

Secretary Johnson, I don't have to tell you those are all serious holes in our national safety net.  

JOHNSON:  A couple of things, Chris.  First, our U.S. military, along with our international partners, as we speak, is taking back territory from ISIL in Iraq/Syria.  We've taken out a number of the leaders, those focused on external attacks.  

You're correct to note the number of open pending investigations by the FBI here in the homeland.  The FBI's become pretty good when it comes to their counterterrorism capability, detecting these types of things.  Aviation security, TSA is actually stronger now in my view than it was a year ago after those horrible I.G. test results.  

As you know, we've replaced the TSA administrator, hired a new one, Pete Neffenger, who’s doing a terrific job.  We were challenged earlier this summer.  Wait times have been reduced.  But we have not short cut aviation security and we're investing in more aviation security technology and more TSOs.  In terms of the southwest border, I just recently asked for them to focus on immigrants coming illegally from other hemispheres, from the Middle East and so forth, to detect them and block them before they even get to the homeland, working with governments in South America, Central America to prevent that from happening.  

You're correct that we're seeing illegal migrants coming from Africa, coming from the Middle East.  And we're doubling down on preventing that happening before they even reach the southwest border.  

WALLACE:  So, bottom line, is the threat we face now worse or less serious than during 9/11, because the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Keane and Lee Hamilton, say they think it's worse.  

JOHNSON:  We're stronger when it comes to preventing against a 9/11 style attack.  We very plainly have a serious threat environment when it comes to the lone wolf actor, those who self-radicalize.  That's a relatively new phenomenon that we've got to protect against.  

The public can play a role, building bridges to communities where terrorists were trying to recruit from within.  It’s a new environment and a lot of people are working hard to protect against it.  But it's still here and it’s probably going to be with us for a while, Chris.  

WALLACE:  I want to turn to Russian hacking into our political system, Democratic Party files, election databases in at least two states, Arizona and Illinois.  Do you believe that the Russians are trying to undermine confidence in our democratic processes and what is the possibility that they could actually disrupt the vote count in November?  

JOHNSON:  First, there's an open investigation into the DNC hack, into various intrusions that we've seen into state election systems.  It would be pretty hard to, Chris, alter a ballot count, alter how we tabulate votes in this country in part because the system is so decentralized.  There are some 9,000 jurisdictions involved in the election process.  

But I’ve been sending the message to state and local election officials that my department, our cyber security experts, are in a position to help them further secure their presence on the internet where it exists.  We're in the midst of having that conversation literally right now.  And so, we're going to keep at that between now and November 8th and beyond.  

WALLACE:  Mr. Secretary, does it bother you when you hear a major American political figure say that Vladimir Putin is more of a leader than President Obama?  

JOHNSON: Well, Chris, I don't comment on what the political candidates say this election season.  I think we have to be extremely careful, however, in what we say about foreign leaders.  Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle have a lot of concerns about what Vladimir Putin is up to.  So I think we need to be careful in our rhetoric, and that's -- that's a non-partisan bipartisan statement, Chris.  

WALLACE:  Let me ask you about another non-partisan bipartisan issue.  In July of last year, you stopped using your government computer for personal e-mails and you banned all homeland security officials from doing the same.  

Question: Why?  

JOHNSON:  Well, accessing your personal e-mail online on a desktop at work is not a cybersecurity best practice.  And so, in Homeland Security, certainly in the leadership of Homeland Security, we've got to set the example.  We've got to be a model in terms of best practices.  

WALLACE:  Do you know if your material -- material you receive is classified whether or not it's marked, whether or not there's a header?  Do you know simply from the content and do you feel an obligation to protect classified material regardless of the marking?  

JOHNSON:  Well, I certainly feel an obligation to protect classified material regardless of the marking.  From my Department of Defense days I think I can recognize it.  In fact, very often when I’m in a skiff talking with my people I question whether something has been correctly classified based upon what I’m reading, based upon the subject of what I’m reading.  

But classified material should be on a wholly separate system, separate and apart from the unclassified daily e-mail traffic that we see on our official networks.  

WALLACE:  Finally, sir, you were a lawyer working in New York City on 9/11.  In fact, it turns out that this is your birthday.  I wonder, what is your central memory from that terrible day and how does it shape the way you approach your job as the secretary of homeland security?  

JOHNSON:  Well, thanks for asking.  I was a lawyer in private law practice here in Manhattan on 9/11/2001.  I had just left the Pentagon nine months earlier as general counsel of the Air Force.  

And I recall, everybody remembers the weather that day, how beautiful it was.  I recall, frankly, a real feeling of guilt that I had left public service.  I wanted to be back at the Pentagon where it was going to be all hands on deck.  And I remember coming down to a street in Manhattan, looking for a hospital where I could donate blood.

But given the nature of the tragedy, the blood banks were full and nothing was needed.  You were either dead or you escaped.  

And, Chris, I’ve dedicated myself over the last nearly eight years now in defense and homeland security to addressing the homeland security threats, making us safer and improving our national security.  Thanks for asking.  

WALLACE:  Mr. Secretary, thank you for talking with us what I know is for all of us a very difficult day.  Thank you, sir.  

JOHNSON:  Thank you, sir.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE:  Up next, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clash over national security.  We'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the threats one of them will face as commander-in-chief.  

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about how safe the nation is 15 years after 9/11?  Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday.  And we may use your question on the air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE:  A live look at the Pentagon where a crowd is now gathering to remember the 189 people who lost their lives there on September 11th.  

And it's time now for our Sunday group: syndicated columnist George Will, Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams, Julie Pace who covers the White House and the campaign for "The Associated Press", and "Washington Examiner" contributor Lisa Boothe.  

George, there's so much more security in this country now than there was 15 years ago but the threat has also grown.  Bottom line, are we safer?  

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  I think we're probably safer from terrorism.  There's an asterisk.  I'll come back to that.  

For several reasons, the war began badly, the war on terrorism.  But our wars often begin badly, Oran (ph) or Pearl Harbor the Kasserine Pass of Korea.  And then, we begin to learn.  And we've done a lot of learning about terrorism and as the secretary just stressed, we've made technological developments.  Some of which we know, some of which we’re not allowed to know.  I think we are safer.  

I think the world at large is less safe, because the threat has metastasized and particularly because Europe, with unassimilated communities of immigrants, is just proximate, more proximate to the caliphate, the ISIS caliphate than it was.  

That said, it seems to me America today is measurably less safe than it was 15 years ago for a number of reasons.  Putin is rampant on Russia dismantling the European nation threatening the Baltic states which are NATO members.  China is extremely aggressive in the South China Sea, which can be a threat at any point.  North Korea launches a missile that will someday soon be able to reach Chicago.  And then, Iran is another regime we cannot read but are right to be worried about.  The world is more ominous.

WALLACE:  We asked you for questions for the panel on this particular subject.  We got this on Facebook from Paul Puskuldjian.  Fascinating.  "I was in the World Financial Center for the bombing in 1993 and then again in the World Financial Center for the attacks on 9/11.  The harsh reality is since 1993 not much has changed."

Juan, how do you answer Paul?  

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think a lot has changed.  And, you know, some of the obvious things are obviously creation of the Department of Homeland Security.  You just heard Chris's interview with Secretary Jeh Johnson.  

Homeland Security is now, I think, the third largest agency in government.  Trillions spent to hardened targets that I think all of us have gone through airports and know that experience.  But I think that what Paul's talking about, Chris, is something that's reflected in the polls, like 40 percent of Americans think at this moment, that terrorists have more ability, more likely to attack us now than back in 2001.  

And you see this in our politics.  Lots of politicians going for fear, concern, anxiety in their thinking.  This is particularly true among Republicans.  Higher percentage of Republicans, over half think there's more chance of an attack, only a third of independents and Democrats.  

But I would just point out again to Paul -- we've had the Patriot Act.  The government has the ability to look at e-mail messages, financial transactions.  We have troops stationed.  We've degraded al Qaeda.  We've degraded ISIS.  

All of these things in terms of the mass kind of attacks you experienced, either going back to ’93 or 2001, I think there's less a chance.  What you heard, though, a few moments ago from George Will is absolutely true, that in turns of the lone wolf attack, or in terms of global political strategies coming in terms of a threat from Putin and China, yes, there's reason to have some sleepless nights.  

WALLACE: Well, I want to turn to that subject, particularly Putin and the threat, and not necessarily the threat of terror but a different threat, and that is the threat of Russian hacking of our American political system, both the Democratic campaign organizations and apparently state electoral systems, at least in two states, Arizona and Illinois.  

Julie, how seriously do they take this at the White House, the possibility that Putin and the Russians could be trying to disrupt our elections?  And what do they think Putin is up to?  

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:  I think they're taking it quite seriously.  I think that's why you are seeing the White House right now wait for this FBI investigation to be complete before they officially say that this was Russia.  They want to make sure all the evidence is complete and they have that all in hand.  

In terms of what they do, this is just such a complicated issue every time we deal with Russia because one of your major tools is sanction.  You could levy sanctions on Russia.  We're also trying to partner with Russia in Syria.  You saw Lavrov and Kerry meeting over the last few days.  

The question of what Russia is trying to do, though, here I think is fairly obvious.  They are trying to create some sort of uncertainty in this election and in the process and then, ultimately, in the results which if you --

WALLACE:  To what end though?  

PACE:  I don't know what end.  I think the idea of creating chaos in American democracy might be the end because if you really think about this idea, no matter what happens in our electoral campaigns, we generally are confident that the outcome was accurate and correct, and if they can create some uncertainty around just the process and create just nervousness in the American population, maybe that is just their end.  

WALLACE:  I want to pick up on that with you, Lisa, because the Russians don't have to disrupt our elections if they just create doubt about the outcome, about the reliability of the vote count.  They've kind of achieved their goal, haven't they?  

LISA BOOTHE, WASHINGTON EXAMINER CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, absolutely, and that's what they've just done.  And I think this is also just Russia attempting to flex its power, also flexing its muscles in regards to cyber warfare and cyber attacks.  Secretary Johnson had said he does not believe that Russia could ultimately affect the outcome because the election system is so decentralized and it is so vast.  

That being said, Russia has been hacking Eastern European banks prior to 9/11.  Germany recently accused Russia’s hacking parliament, as well as Chancellor Merkel’s website.  Further, Russia was or at least is being accused of first electrical failure in Western Ukraine, knocking out electricity for 11 -- or 80,000 Ukrainians.  

So, it wouldn’t be surprising if Russia, you know, potentially tries to meddle with U.S. relations.  Also, Russia is the master of subversion and Putin was a former KGB analyst.  He knows that all too well.  

WALLACE:  In Ukraine in 2014, in fact, there was a Russian effort to disrupt the electoral website there just before the presidential election.  George, this effort would seem to be right out of the Kremlin playbook.  

WILL:  Absolutely.  I think it's quite right that what they want to say is we have our problems in Russia, at least we have orderly elections, so orderly, in fact, we know the outcome before we have the elections.  But beyond that, I just want to say that there is something wrong with the systems that are supposedly our rivals.  And to demoralize the United States, that is, to get people to think they have a government that is somehow tainted, its legitimacy compromised by inadequacies in the elections is an enormous benefit for the diminution of American power.  

WALLACE:  You know, it's interesting because Putin believed that the United States and specifically Hillary Clinton helped try to work against him when he was running for election.  Do you think this is payback in some sense both to the United States and to Clinton?  

WILL:  I don't know.  I don't know whether we did that.  I hope we did that because he was an extremely dangerous man.  But I don't think Mr. Putin needs a motive to --

WALLACE:  You were nodding your head.  

PACE:  I remember so clearly in the early days of the Obama administration, when Medvedev would come to Washington.  Obama was going out to have burgers with him for lunch.  There was a real effort to bolster him, make him appear as more of a Western-leaning figure, hoping that in Russia, that the population also would want that.  I think that has proven not to be true.  But, yes, there was a real effort to try to create another power center in Russia.  

WALLACE:  All right, panel.  We have to take a break here.  We’ll see you a little later.

Up next, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump engage on national security, and we'll continue the debate with two top supporters.  

Plus, what do you think?  Who would make a better commander-in-chief and why.  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and use #fns.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE:  Coming up, the candidates spar over foreign policy and who will keep America safe.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  She's trigger happy and very unstable.  

HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  He's very loose in his talk about nukes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  We’ll ask our Sunday panel to join the debate over who’s fit to be commander in chief.  That’s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who lost their lives in the service for others, your families love and miss you.  Today, we honor your memory and your life and the lives of all who lost that day.  

WALLACE:  Observances continue at Ground Zero in New York city on this 15th anniversary of 9/11.  As family members read the names of the almost 3,000 people who were killed in four separate attacks.  

Joining me now to discuss the new focus on national security, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Trump's top advisors and Clinton advocate, Congressman Xavier Becerra

Gentlemen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."  

REP. XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIFORNIA:  Thank you.  

WALLACE:  Before we get to national security, I want to ask you both about remarks that Clinton made at a fund-raiser in New York City on Friday night.  Here she is.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right?  The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Congressman Becerra, she says that half, half of Trump's supporters are, quote, "not America".  Your reaction?

BECERRA:  Well --  

WALLACE:  She’s talking, let me just say, she’s talking about millions of people.

BECERRA:  Yes.  She said she was generalizing but since then, she has also said she regrets that comment about half.  There are some, I don't think anyone denies that there are people there who are deplorable.  The white supremacists, the David Dukes of the world who are supporting Donald Trump.  

And the great thing is that it’s clear that there's at least one adult in this race who’s willing to say, "I regret a remark I made."  But the more important thing here, bottom line is, we’ve never had a president who would be taking office, governing from a position of hate and anger.  

And I don’t think any of us -- I, as a son of immigrants, watching someone attack immigrants or watching -- women who are watching a -- a candidate who has said deplorable things about women. I don't think what we want is someone who will get into office based on advocating, campaigning, and then governing based on anger and hate.

WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, as the congressman mentioned, Hillary Clinton released a statement yesterday trying to clean this up. She says this. "Last night I was, quote, ‘grossly generalistic," and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ -- that was wrong." Does that make it any better?

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. Hillary’s beginning to fall apart. I mean she comes out of a terrible national security debate where everybody -- where she lost so badly that the left had to attack Matt Lauer because they couldn’t accept Hillary did that badly. She then says ISIS is praying for Trump to win. She then turns with this grotesque statement, which -- which any reasonable person -- I mean Romney got hammered for talking about 47 percent who dependent on government. She just made a statement in which she lumped together millions of Americans. She can go back and try to clean it up. That was, I think a deliberate statement on her part. She wants to pick a fight. Well, fine, let's get Sheriff Clark, who’s an African-American sheriff in Milwaukee, who’s for Trump, he can debate her on racism. Let's get Ben Carson, who’s an African-American candidate, he can debate her on racism. The left has for years used vicious language to block serious discussion of their policy failures in the inner city. This is more of the same.

WALLACE:  Congressman Becerra, just looking at the record, she has made this comment, not necessarily said half, but talked about Trump supporters being this basket of deplorables. It's a line she's used repeatedly.

BECERRA: David Duke, he's deplorable. The white supremacists who go -- go out and say that they are supporting Donald Trump, they're deplorable. The people who agree that anyone based on their religion should not be allowed to -- to come to this country, they’re deplorable. I think what she is saying, a lot of us -- my father could not walk into a restaurant when he was a young man because of the signs that said "no dogs or Mexicans allowed. He was a U.S. citizen. He's not a hater, though, of this country. He loves this country. And what we have to understand is that we should not have people who be -- who get elected to office based on campaigning on anger and hate. And -- and, Newt, accept that fact that she said, I regret those remarks.

GINGRICH: OK. Yes, but -- but --

BECERRA: At least she's willing to say that. Donald Trump can’t utter those words.

GINGRICH: But -- but -- but --

WALLACE:  All right, let -- let -- let -- let the speaker talk about then we’ll move on.

GINGRICH: But let me say direct -- Donald Trump has repeatedly, explicitly repudiated David Duke. Now, that's a fact. I mean Donald Trump has issued statement after statement. He has been on television saying this. So this idea that Donald Trump somehow is secretly courting people, that's wrong. Trump goes to a black church in Detroit to talk about the failure of Democratic Party politics -- policies in the inner city. Now let's have a debate about the failure of the Democratic Party in the inner city, which, of course, leads then to yelling racist because if they can't smear Trump, they’re going to lose a lot of votes.

WALLACE:  All right. All right.

BECERRA: Are all Mexican immigrants --

WALLACE:  Gentlemen, gentlemen, I'm going to move on to a --

BECERRA: Rapists or --

WALLACE:  I’m going to move on --

GINGRICH: No, of course not.

WALLACE: I’m going to move on to another subject.

BECERRA: OK, so let him say he regrets that remark.

WALLACE:  All right, they can keep talking, I will talk to you folks.

And let's turn to Trump and his running mate and their continued support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a very different system. And I don't happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.

GOV. MIKE PENCE, R-IND., VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Mr. Speaker, we're talking about someone who runs, in Putin, a repressive regime, who kills his opponents, who invades other countries and he’s more of a leader than --

GINGRICH: Well, and more effective.

WALLACE:  No, he said more of a leader.

GINGRICH: In achieving -- in achieving his goals. But -- but let’s -- let’s go back to George W. Bush, who looked into Putin’s eyes --

WALLACE:  He said, "he's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader." And Mike Pence said, "Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country."

GINGRICH: I think he certainly has been a very strong leader. But -- but let’s go all the way back to George W. Bush, who said she looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his soul. Let’s go back to Hillary, who actually got a button out of a hot tub, painted the wrong word on it for "reset." Actually -- she actually painted "overcharge" because her interpreter was wrong. That’s -- that was her opening. Let's go to this week where Secretary Kerry is sitting down, trying to work out a deal in Syria with the Russians. Let's go to Iran, where this administration’s --

WALLACE: But -- but you can’t -- you can't be comfortable with this continued praise of Vladimir Putin.

GINGRICH: I’m not -- I’m not comfortable or uncomfortable with it. I think -- I think that Putin is a fact. I don't think our effort to -- to say bad things -- I mean it's been pathetic. There was a red line on -- on Syria. It didn't work. There was a red line on Crimea, it didn't work. I man at what point do we recognize that this guy exists and calling him names may not be the best strategy we have.

WALLACE:  Let me bring -- bring you into this, Congressman Becerra. I want you to respond to that, and also to the fact that Trump went on RT, that’s the Russian television propaganda arm, to praise Putin and to criticize American media. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Just tremendous dishonesty with the media. Not all of it, obviously, but tremendous dishonesty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Congressman, your reaction?

BECERRA: How could you not feel uncomfortable with a candidate for president praising Putin at the same time that he admonishes our generals, he criticizes our own troops and he shames the families of American soldiers? It’s -- he’s running for president of the United States, not president of Russia. And it’s -- to me, it's not just deplorable, it's, again, a sign of how he campaigns and why so much of what he does is deplorable. He seems to be kowtowing more to Putin than he does trying to get Americans to want to support him.

GINGRICH: Let me say -- wait, let me refrain this for a second. Donald Trump went on Larry King. Now, I don’t think Larry King is an arm of Russian propaganda.

WALLACE:  Well, we --

GINGRICH: No, but let -- but let’s be clear.

WALLACE:  Most of -- all of us at this table understand he appears on RT.

GINGRICH: Yes. But I’m -- I’m just saying, he went on "The Larry King Show." Larry King has been an icon of American talk for 60 years. And I think if Larry King called up, you don’t suddenly go, oh, my God, this would help the Russians. You go, Larry, you’re an old friend, of course I'll do your show.

BECERRA: Do -- you don't think that the Russians allow that network to public -- televise and publicize anything people want, do you?

GINGRICH: I think that network allows Larry King to be on it and I think Trump did Larry King.

WALLACE:  OK. Gentlemen --

BECERRA: So (INAUDIBLE) suits the Republican.

WALLACE:  I -- I need to -- I want to move on to another subject. Hillary Clinton had yet another explanation this week for her mishandling of classified information on her private e-mail system. Here is her latest defense and what FBI Director Comey had to say last July.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Classified material has a header which says "top secret," "secret," "confidential." None of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Even if information is not marked classified in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Congressman, that’s the FBI director saying it doesn't matter if it’s marked classified or not, it doesn’t matter whether there’s a header or not, classified is classified.

BECERRA: So you want to be careful with it. And I believe the secretary has said numerous times that she regrets that she used a private server --

WALLACE:  Then why was she talking about the header?

BECERRA: Because people were trying to make the case that she should be prosecuted for having used the -- the private server because of classified information.

WALLACE:  Well, we already know she’s not going to be prosecuted, so she was defending her actions --

BECERRA: Right, and the reason --

WALLACE:  By saying there wasn't a header.

BECERRA: And the reason she's not going to be prosecuted, Chris, is because the FBI found that she didn't intentionally disclose any classified information.

WALLACE:  Would you agree that the header -- and we just talked about this with Secretary Johnson -- doesn't matter?

BECERRA: I -- I, too, have reviewed classified information. Classified information typically has a very bolt and obvious header that says "classified" or "top secret." And what she is saying is that the documents that she may have passed along through her e-mails did not contain those bold, printed words. And the --

WALLACE:  Congressman, I --

BECERRA: Director Comey agrees that there was not information that boldly, clearly identified --

WALLACE:  No, he didn’t say -- he did not say that. He said that she did not have criminal intent. He didn't in any way say --

BECERRA: There --

WALLACE:  This -- I want to bring this up to you because this is the classified nondisclosure agreement that Secretary Clinton signed just as she became secretary of state in January of 2009. And here's what it says. "Classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communication, I understand and accept that by being granted access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be placed in me by the United States Government."

Congressman Becerra, it's clear the marking, the header doesn't matter. It's the content that matters.

BECERRA: If it's classified, it would have that marking on it. And I don't believe there's any evidence that shows that Secretary Clinton intended to disclose any classified information. But as she has said, she understands it was a mistake to use a private server. She does not -- and as Colin Powell has also said, there are ways you use your e-mail that could become problematic, and that's why you (INAUDIBLE) to avoid it.

WALLACE:  All right, I -- I -- I’m sorry, speaker, I'm going to bring you in for one last subject and that is because Trump's comments this week about U.S. generals and Clinton's response. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it's embarrassing about our country.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Speaker Gingrich, the country’s generals are an embarrassment and in addition he seems to think, he said in that -- that candidate forum, that he could replace them. As you well know, I suspect as we all know here, yes, he could replace the -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, but he couldn’t replace generals up and down the line. There’s a system for that. He doesn’t seem to understand that.

GINGRICH: Well, let me say, first of all, I suspect he is reflecting the views of people like General Flynn. I suspect he's reflecting the views of the 50 plus analysts at CENTCOM who have now said they were explicitly forced and threatened in order to give false reports about ISIS. I think that there is a very severe problem in the degree to which the Obama administration has politicized the system inside the defense department. And you saw that with the recent memo for the secretary of defense on how to handle Speaker Ryan, which was an extraordinarily manipulative document. So I think there is a reflection among many retired generals and admirals that the Obama administration’s influence has been negative and destructive and I’m -- I have --

WALLACE:  But does that mean the generals are an embarrassment?

GINGRICH: I -- I am very surprised that the CENTCOM scandal in which a general officer was -- was coercing his subordinates into -- into -- into putting in false reports has not become a larger national scandal.

WALLACE:  I would love to consider this conversation with both of you and, in fact, we'll have you both back to continue it. Speaker Gingrich, Congressman Becerra, thank you both -- thanks for your time today.

BECERRA: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE:  When we come back, Trump praises Putin and Clinton defends her e-mail. Our Sunday group returns to break it all down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts and our truly -- when they call it intelligence, it’s there for a reason -- what our experts said to do.

CLINTON: I think what he said was totally inappropriate and undisciplined. I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  Donald Trump giving a controversial look inside his intelligence briefings, and Hillary Clinton calling him out on that.

And we’re back now with the panel.

So, so much material, so little time to go over it. Let's start again with Clinton’s remark to a big fundraiser in New York on Friday. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right? The racists, sexists, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic, you name it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE:  George, the Clinton camp, I think it’s fair to say, has been scrambling all weekend to try to clean this up. They say that she was referring to the people who attend Trump rallies, not to the millions of people who have voted -- I see you shaking your head already -- who have voted for him. How damaging is this?

WILL: It's damaging for the following reason. First of all, every young writer is told early on in his career, when you say something that really sounds fun, like basket of deplorables, when in doubt, take it out, because it’s probably going too far. But beyond that, Peter Hart (ph), a very talented, vastly experienced Democratic consultant in this town says the following. Go back to every election since the Second World War starting with Truman and Dewey, in every election except the Nixon elections, the most likeable candidate wins. Take all your fancy metrics and all your peculiar algorithms, likability is what decides this thing.

Now, the Clinton campaign’s problem from the start has been, the country has decided she's not honest and trustworthy and it’s not easy to change that. But maybe they could make her not honest, not trustworthy but likeable. So the -- she goes to this event and she does something that's just not -- it’s condescension. It’s like President Obama talking about the people bitterly clinging to their guns and religion. Or 47 percent of Americans are takers, not makers.

WALLACE:  Mitt Romney.

WILL: Mitt Romney. The problem is cultural in this country, not just economic. That is, people don't feel just left behind, they feel looked down upon, despised by their elites. And that's much more volatile than an economic grievance.

WALLACE:  Juan, I want to ask your opinion about this because a lot of people are comparing it to Mitt Romney at a big fundraiser in Florida with a lot of rich people, saying 47 percent of Americans just want handouts. Is this that bad?

WILLIAMS: No, I don’t think so at all. I think Mitt Romney made a mistake. I mean if you just want to look at the facts of it. But in this case, I think what Clinton has done, two weeks before the first debate, Chris, is I think she's sharpened the focus on who Trump is and people who choose to associate with Trump. I mean you’ve got to realize, when you think about it, Trump is not your normal conservative. He is not your normal Republican.

WALLACE:  But to say that half of his supporters --

WILLIAMS: She said she was generalizing. But the point -- and I think the point that will be taken away from this, I mean the Republican point is the one about condescension, looking down from the elitist point of view. But I think for most voters the point will be, hmm, Trump is trying to mainstream a lot of fringe groups, the birthers, racists. I mean you look at the poll numbers. Most -- and I think it’s like 35 percent of Americans think Trump is a racist. And about 56 percent think that he has negative attitudes towards women, immigrants and minorities. So for them to say that there’re a b group of people who associate with Trump, who have deplorable views, I don't think is that shocking. I think the question is, how do they take Hillary Clinton? Hillary Clinton's Democratic supporters aren't turned off by this at all. The question is about independents. And I think especially independent minded Republican, college educated women, how will they react?

WALLACE:  Lisa, Trump had his own problems this week, as I discussed with our two guests before. He continues to praise Vladimir Putin. He said that America's generals have been reduced to rubble and are an embarrassment. He talked about his confidential intelligence briefings he’s getting as a presidential candidate. Is that helping him in his trying to get past the threshold as a potential commander in chief?

BOOTHE: No, it doesn't. I mean if you look at the issue, especially on a day like today, September 11th, on the issue of taking the fight to ISIS, that is an issue that Donald Trump polls well on in essentially every poll. But, yes, I mean, there is this narrative that Hillary Clinton is trying to drive about Donald Trump, questioning his temperament, questioning his judgment more broadly on national security and his abilities to be commander in chief. And I do think when he says things like that on both those accounts it does play into that narrative that Hillary Clinton is driving.

But that being said, Hillary Clinton has to be able to also articulate and make that argument effectively. And what we've seen from Hillary Clinton is a candidate who has been on the defense for the past couple of weeks despite the fact that Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for decades. She’s had countless amounts of media training, mock debate practice. This is a candidate who should be much stronger than she is. And what we’ve seen from her is a weak candidate, whether it was the interview with Matt Lauer, the commander-in-chief forum, or even her basket of deplorables comment. This is a candidate who was incredibly weak despite having decades of experience.

WALLACE:  Well, and -- and to that point, let's put up some polls which are -- which are fascinating because for all of Trump's supposed problems, the polls continue to close. Trump was down more than four points in Florida a couple of weeks ago. He's now tied. In Ohio, he's moved from down five to down one. And in Pennsylvania, that's narrowed from a 9-point gap Clinton advantage to six points.

Julie, how worried are Democrats that for all of Trump's problems this race is close and getting closer?

PACE: Here are two basic lines of thinking from Democrats right now. One is, how can this race possibly be this close given that Trump has insulted numerous groups of Americans and said things like praising Putin and criticizing the generals that would disqualify most presidential candidates? On the other hand, you hear Democrats who look at 2012, where Obama, in the end, won by a wide margin and the polls actually looked pretty similar at this stage. They go back to Clinton’s ground game, which is quite strong in a lot of these states and say, in a close race you have to give her the edge given what she has on the ground.

WALLACE:  George, your thoughts about why Trump is still within striking distance and, in fact, the race is tightening?

WILL: Well, first of all, Mrs. Clinton is -- has this likability problem she can't solve. As you say, this could change very quickly. When Ronald Regan went to Cleveland for his one debate against Jimmy Carter, they were essentially tied in the polls. A week later, catalyzed by the debates, Reagan won a landslide. So there could be a lot of movement in this -- in this electorate yet. And it makes the first debate all the more important.

WALLACE:  Are you suggesting that if Reagan -- if Regan -- if Trump were to pass the commander-in-chief sort of in people’s eyes, their view of -- past that threshold, you could see that kind of a shift?

WILL: I think you could if -- if either candidate does something that changes the almost universally deplorable narratives about both of them.

WALLACE:  Do you agree with that, Juan?

WILLIAMS: I would not say --

WALLACE:  Would you think it’s -- basically that much up for grabs?

WILLIAMS: Well, there’s about 20 percent. It’s higher right now. Undecideds are higher in this race than they’ve been in previous elections at this time. And part of that is that people don't like -- if you look at unfavorability ratings, they don’t like Trump or Clinton very much. And, remember, the media plays a role here, too. The media wants a horse race. And I think lots of times, I think that’s why there was so much criticism of Matt Lauer and how he handled the debate. A lot of attention, Chris Wallace.

BOOTHE: No pressure.

WALLACE:  It wasn't a debate, it was an interview.

Last word, quick.

BOOTHE: But Hillary Clinton also has her own vulnerabilities when it comes to judgment and being commander in chief. You look at the way she handled her private e-mail server, as well as the Clinton Foundation. Further, you look at the failed Russian reset, the Uranium One deal that’s been in question as well. And Bill Clinton giving speeches in Russia and getting a personal thank you call from Putin.

WALLACE:  Lots to cover. As I say, so -- so much material, so little time. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins talks about winning on and off the field.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE:  Today is the first Sunday of the NFL season. And we want to introduce you to someone who's playing for a lot more than just trying to pile up victories on the field. Here is our "Power Player of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COUSINS: At the end of the day, if you don't win football games, people aren't going to want to listen to what you have to say. So football’s most important and we’ve got to win on the field. But when you do that, it sure opens some doors for some real impact to happen beyond just football.

WALLACE (voice-over): Kirk Cousins is quarterback of the Washington Redskins and he's hoping to turn victories on the field into visibility for a cause he's been backing for years. He was a teenager when a man named Gary Howgan (ph) came to his church.

COUSINS: I remember in that moment as a 17-year-old saying, if I ever -- if God ever blesses me enough to have the finances to really make a difference, that's an organization, that's a man that I want to get behind.

WALLACE:  He’s talking about the International Justice Mission that over the last 20 years has rescued 28,000 people from slavery and child sex trafficking around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These little kids were on this boat and they were abused beyond imagination.

WALLACE:  Kids like Joshua (ph), who’s in forced labor and Ghana, and Elsa (ph), who's a survivor of sex trafficking in the Philippians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or dangerous situation, move yourself to a position of cover.

WALLACE:  IJM puts lawyers and investigators into the field to push local law enforcement to bust these rings. They've secured more than 1,000 convictions, which brings us back to Kirk Cousins.

COUSINS: You like that! You like that!

WALLACE:  After leading the Redskins to their biggest comeback ever last year, the usually mild mannered quarterback had this outburst that caught on. T-shirt sales brought in $50,000 and rally towels for a playoff game raised another 30,000 that all went to IJM.

COUSINS: I’m a big believe in the quote by John Lessy (ph) that says, "set yourself on fire and people will come from miles to watch you burn." In other words, when you live and play with passion, people want to see that.

WALLACE:  But as Cousins knows, his platform depends on winning.

WALLACE (on camera): Is that a lot of pressure?

COUSINS: I played my senior year of high school football with no scholarship offers and had to prove myself to college recruiters at that point. That was pressure. And last year I was playing in my fourth year knowing that it was a make or break opportunity. And that was pressure. And so while there's pressure, it's -- it’s nothing new.

WALLACE (voice-over): Adding to that pressure, after their playoff run last season, Cousins and the Redskins could not agree on a long-term contract, so he's playing under what's called the franchise tag (ph), one year for $20 million. Cousins wants to keep playing and keep supporting IJM.

COUSINS: God wired me to be a leader and to want to impact people and I see this as a great opportunity to do that. It's a challenge every day and it can feel like a weight or responsibility at times, but what an honor and a privilege and I pray every day that the Lord will help me to steward it well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE:  Cousins and the Redskins start their season Monday night when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you'd like to learn more about IJM, please visit our website, foxnewssunday.com.

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

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