Reince Priebus on war of words with White House over Russia

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," December 18, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


With the Electoral College set to meet tomorrow, Democrats say they need to know more about Russian hacking before the electors cast their votes.  


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  There's ample evidence that was known long before the election about the Trump campaign and Russia.  

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR:  It's just remarkable.  That is breathtaking.  I guess he’s auditioning to be a political pundit.  

WALLACE:  Today, the war of words over Russia and the election.  We'll talk with the incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.  It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.  

Then, what are the chances Trump electors will vote against him?  

We'll speak with Democratic Congressman Don Beyer, who's calling for the Electoral College to hold off.  And one of the electors, Democrat Clay Pell of Rhode Island, who's demanding they get an intelligence briefing first.  

Plus, Hillary Clinton blames her defeat in part on Russian President Putin's grudge against her.  

HILLARY CLINTON, D-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election.  

WALLACE:  We'll ask our Sunday panel, including long-time Clinton adviser Neera Tanden, about those allegations.  

And our power player of the week, betting (ph) on the Potomac.  Going behind the scenes of D.C.'s newest landmark, a Las Vegas style casino.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I’ve never seen a sight like this, honestly.  

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


WALLACE:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington.  

We are 33 days from Donald Trump's inauguration, but the bitterness of the presidential campaign has returned, with the intelligence community stating the Russians interfered in the election to help Mr. Trump win, and some presidential electors say they want an intelligence briefing before they do their constitutional duty.

Joining us here in Washington is the president-elect's White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.  

Reince, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

REINCE PRIEBUS, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Thanks for having me this morning.  

WALLACE:  President-elect Trump told me last weekend that the CIA conclusion that Russia interfered with the election to help him was, quote, "ridiculous," and it could have been some guy in a basement.  Well, now the CIA director, John Brennan, says he's met with the director of national intelligence and the head of the FBI and, quote, "There's strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference."

Question, does the president-elect accept the consensus of the intel community?  

PRIEBUS:  Well, I think a lot of these things, though, Chris, are coming through third parties.  I mean, we haven't heard from Comey.  When Clapper --

WALLACE:  This was CIA Director Brennan.  You think he's lying about what Jim Comey thinks?  

PRIEBUS:  No, I don't think he is, but it sure would be nice to hear from everybody.  I mean, if there is this conclusive opinion among all of these intelligence agencies, then they should issue a report or they should stand in front of a camera and make the case.  

But that all being said, let's put that aside for a second.  I think the real question is, why the Democrats and why these electors and why and all of these organizations are doing everything they can to delegitimize the outcome of the election?

I mean, they started out with a recount in states that they didn't move the dial anywhere.  In fact, President-elect Trump received more votes after that was done.  Then they went after this Diebold fiasco, which was proven to be totally untrue.  Now, they’re demanding --  


PRIEBUS:  Right.  Now, they're going forward tomorrow with this attempt to intimidate and harass electors.  I mean, we’ve got electors that are receiving 200,000 e-mails.  Nothing is going to change.  

WALLACE:  But, Reince, I’m going to get to that on the electors.  I’m asking you a simple question.  Does the president-elect accept the consensus -- and that's what John Brennan said it was -- the consensus of the intel community about Russian interference and its intent?  

PRIEBUS:  I think he would accept the conclusion if these intelligence professionals would get together, put out a report, show the American people that they're actually on the same page as opposed to third parties through The Washington Post.

WALLACE:  This wasn’t a third party.

PRIEBUS:  Right.  But we haven’t heard --  

WALLACE:  John Brennan issued a statement.  

PRIEBUS:  I mean, we haven't heard from Comey.  I mean, we -- so, look, I think that these guys should be straight with the American people and come out and say it.  I don't think they've been clear about it.  I think that it's been all over the map.  

WALLACE:  So, John Brennan, his statement is not enough for you?  

PRIEBUS:  Not when you have multiple people saying different things, coming through third parties and media reports.  

But that all being said, just -- let's put it aside.  Let's assume it's true.  There's no evidence that shows that the outcome of the election was changed because of a couple dozen John Podesta e-mails that were out there.  I would propose --

WALLACE:  I agree with that.  And that's fair.  

But I’m asking you about the specific question of Russian intelligence.  Here's what President Obama said in his news conference on Friday.  Take a look.  


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.  


WALLACE:  And that's really the question I’m focusing on.  We'll get to the electors in a minute and what the Democrats are trying to do.  Does President Trump accept -- or trust the intelligence community -- this is a CIA director saying this, not a third party -- or does he trust the Russian denials?  

PRIEBUS:  Look, I think that they're almost there, except for the fact they haven't been totally up front and transparent in their opinion as to who, what, where, and how this all happened.  And I think they'll get there.  And when they do, we can hear from the president-elect and get his opinion.  

But the reality of all of this and all of these players that are spinning these reports are doing it for a political purpose, which is to delegitimize the outcome of the election.  

WALLACE:  Do you think John Brennan, the CIA director --

PRIEBUS:  No, but I think when these things were leaked last week with no -- you know, in "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," they were leaked by people within the intelligence community to these newspapers or through some third-party source, is not appropriate.  And then, people like us have to answer to these third parties about something that all of these intelligence agencies have not made 100 percent clear as to what's happening.  

WALLACE:  I -- this may -- you may say this falls in that area of a political agenda, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest went further than President Obama did this week, suggesting that there might be some connection between President-elect Trump's campaign and Russian interference.  Here he is.  


EARNEST:  Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity that was helping him and hurting Secretary Clinton's campaign.  


WALLACE:  Two questions.  One, do you flatly deny any contact, any coordination between Mr. Trump, his campaign, his associates and the Russians in interfering?  

PRIEBUS:  Even this question is insane.  Of course, we didn't interface with the Russians.  I mean, this whole thing is a spin job.  And I think what the Democrats ought to do is look in the mirror and face the reality that they lost the election.  And they lost the election because they're so and completely out of touch with the American people that they're so shell-shocked and they can't believe it.  

And what is their response?  Recounts, Russians, leaked CIA reports, and now the press secretary of the president saying that the reason Hillary Clinton lost wasn't because she blew it in Benghazi, she blew it with Russia, she blew it as secretary of state, she ignored the entire Midwest, and people didn't like the product.  That's why Hillary Clinton lost.  

WALLACE:  You think Josh Earnest was speaking for the president there and that this was kind of a good cop/bad cop deal, that he was saying what the president really thinks while the president was acting above the fray?  

PRIEBUS:  I would like to think that he was going rogue at that moment and that it wouldn't be so coordinated among, you know, our current president and someone that we're working pretty well with, to tell you the truth, between him and Denis McDonough.  They've actually been great to work with and things are going very smoothly.  So --

WALLACE:  But you don't believe that.  You don't believe that two days in a row, the White House press secretary went rogue.  

PRIEBUS:  Well, that's what I would like to think.  But, you know, it really doesn't matter to us.  I mean, we're moving forward with a cabinet that you've seen at lightning pace, with great Americans that are more than qualified for these positions and a president-elect that wants to move forward.  

WALLACE:  I want to ask you specifically, because we've been touching on it.  But as you know some of the Democratic presidential electors are -- and they're supposed to vote tomorrow -- are calling for a delay until they get the security briefing.  What do you think that's about?  

PRIEBUS:  It's about  It's about Democrats that can't accept the outcome of the election.  It's about delegitimizing the American system.  It's not going to work.  

WALLACE:  Let me ask you about it not working.  You're still head of the RNC, which has been conducting a whip count, you know, to try to make sure that the Trump electors vote for Donald Trump.  At this point, how many possible what they call faithless electors are there who might jump ship?  

PRIEBUS:  Look, we expect everything to fall in line.  We've got one particular individual in Texas, without a faithless elector statute in Texas.  But other than that, we're very confident that everything is going to be very smooth tomorrow and this harassment from groups like and the Democratic Party should stop.  And it's what the American people demand.  

WALLACE:  All right.  I want to do a lightning round.  Quick questions, quick answers because you guys --  

PRIEBUS:  Right (ph).

WALLACE:  Well, you guys have been making a lot of news and I want to ask you about some of it quickly.  

First, the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state.  Some Republican senators are concerned about his ties to Russian President Putin.  Here are they are:


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA:  When he gets the friendship award from a butcher, frankly, it's an issue that I think needs to be examined.  

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA:  So, my question, Mr. Tillerson, do you realize what Russia is up to here and all over the world, and are you willing to do something about it?  


WALLACE:  If those two Republicans vote against Tillerson, his nomination hangs by a single vote.  

PRIEBUS:  Right.  And we've been working with Senator McCain and Senator Graham, Senator Rubio in Florida.  We feel really confident about where we're at.  And, obviously, getting Secretary Baker, Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, and so many others on board has been a real benefit.  

You know, look, this is a tough world, and I think that, you know, having relationships with people in difficult places is only a positive for Rex Tillerson.  

And, you know, the Good Lord didn't put oil in all freedom, democracy-loving countries.  As being an executive of ExxonMobil, he had to go there and have these relationships.  I think that's a total positive and win for our country and President-elect Trump.  

WALLACE:  You're still confident that Tillerson will get through?  

PRIEBUS:  Totally confident, 100 percent confident.  

WALLACE:  OK.  That was a good lightning round answer.  So, let’s keep --

PRIEBUS:  There you go.

China seized an underwater U.S. Navy drone this week.  Some analysts say in response to President-elect Trump's response to me last weekend in which he indicated, well, he's going to reconsider the One China Policy.  Now, China says they're going to give back the drone.  Mr. Trump tweeted out yesterday keep it.  

But is there some thought about damping down these provocative remarks by President Trump because of the Chinese response?  

PRIEBUS:  I don’t -- I don't think it's all that provocative, to tell you the truth.  

WALLACE:  To say the One China Policy is up for grabs?  

PRIEBUS:  Wait a second.  Well, look, we're not suggesting we're revisiting One China Policy right now.  And he's not president right now.  And he's respectful to the current president.  

But let me get to the point.  The Chinese ripped a drone out of the water.  President-elect Trump said this is an unprecedented act, totally inappropriate.  It didn't quite use those words, but that's essentially what he said in a tweet.  

I think 80 percent of Americans think it is inappropriate to rip a drone out of the water.  

WALLACE:  Right.

PRIEBUS:  They then keep the drone, give it back to the rightful owner.  I don't know if you'd want that drone back.  I mean, who knows what -- so, I think every single thing he's done has been factual and has been in line with where 80 percent of the American people are at.  

WALLACE:  OK.  Mr. Trump has named David Friedman the ambassador to Israel.  Friedman opposes the two-state solution, the idea that Israel and Palestine can live against each other, which has been the basis for U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East for decades.  

Does the appointment of Friedman indicate that Mr. Trump is rethinking the two-state solution?  

PRIEBUS:  No, I don't think it does at all.  They represent the views of President-elect Trump and not their own views when they get elected and appointed into these positions.  It’s the same thing with all these cabinet secretaries.  There's going to be things that individually people may believe in their hearts or in their mind.  But ultimately, it's their job to represent the president-elect of the United States and his foreign policy.  

WALLACE:  Finally, you have lunch at the White House on Friday with 11, one current and ten former, White House chiefs of staff, going back to the Carter administration.  Final question: what was the single best piece of advice you got?  

PRIEBUS:  Single best piece of advice for me is that if you -- if you -- if you can't tell me something in my office, then don't go into the Oval Office and tell the president.  In other words, people are going to talk to the president and that's fine, but make sure that they give you a read-out and you know what's going on.  The second piece of advice was never present an easy decision to the president.  Only give him the hard stuff.  

WALLACE:  And how long did they say White House chiefs of staff last?  

PRIEBUS:  You know, it's anywhere from like six months to, I guess, four to five years.  But, you know, the shelf life is not long.  

WALLACE:  Well, you're the person that the spears go into, right?

PRIEBUS:  That's right.  

WALLACE:  Chairman Priebus, thank you.  Thanks.  Always a pleasure to talk to you.  

PRIEBUS:  All right.  God bless.  Merry Christmas.  Happy holidays.  

WALLACE:  Thank you.  Same to you.  Please come back.  

Up next, members of the Electoral College cast their vote for president tomorrow, sealing victory for Donald Trump.  But what's normally just a procedural event is anything but this year.  We'll talk it one of the electors and a congressman who's calling to delay the vote, next.   


WALLACE:  Anti-Trump protesters turning out on the National Mall this weekend, just two days before the Electoral College votes for president.  

As the 538 electors gather in their state capitols tomorrow, some Democrats are asking for more information about Russian interference in the election before they cast their votes.  

Joining me now here in Washington, Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia, who's calling for a delay in that vote, and Clay Pell, president of the Rhode Island Electoral College.  

And, gentlemen, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."

Mr. Pell, 80 electors, 79 of whom happen to be Democrats, including you, have sent a letter to General Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, asking the following, "Whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, and require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisers did not accept Russian interference."

Mr. Pell, do you have any evidence of any coordination between Donald Trump or people around him and the Russians?  

CLAY PELL, D-RHODE ISLAND ELECTOR:  No.  All we have is what has been released in public, that there has been an unprecedented intervention by a hostile foreign power in our electoral process.  What I want is the information to be out there so that the American public and electors know who has been involved and make sure that we protect the integrity of the American democracy.  

WALLACE:  But those questions that you asked, you don't have any reason to believe the answer is yes in terms of Trump being involved?

PELL:  Oh, we know there has been involvement by the Russians.  We don't know the full extent of it.  All we're asking for is the information to be released.  

Unfortunately, it appears that information is not going to be released, and that's why tomorrow when we vote in the Electoral College, I’ll be putting forward a motion to, in fact, call for a bipartisan independent commission to investigate Russian interference.  

WALLACE:  Is that going to stop the vote tomorrow?  

PELL:  Oh, absolutely not.  The vote will proceed in all state capitals, including in Rhode Island.  And I fully expect Donald Trump will be formally elected as president tomorrow.  

WALLACE:  But you're going to call for the Electoral College -- now, is it just you or are there going to be people in all the states where there are Democratic electors?  

PELL:  We'll see what happens in other states.  In Rhode Island, I'll be introducing this motion to demand an independent commission.  This should not be partisan.  This needs to get out of partisan politics.  This is about protecting democracy.  

WALLACE: Congressman Beyer, you are asking Congress to pass a law to delay the vote tomorrow in which under the laws that currently stand, electors are going to vote, and you want to delay it until electors get the kind of intel briefing that Mr. Pell is talking about.  But General Clapper issued a statement on Friday that there will be no briefing of Congress or the electors until, quote, "the review is complete," the one that the president asked for in the coming weeks.  

So, in terms of delaying the vote tomorrow, do you give up?  

REP. DON BEYER, D-VIRGINIA:  No, I don't give up, but it's last minute right now.  I first came out with this last week --  

WALLACE:  Right.

BEYER:  -- with the hope that there still was time to bring Congress back.  

You know, Chris, that day, tomorrow, is not set in the Constitution.  It's an act of the Congress to do that.  

WALLACE:  Right.

BEYER:  And the whole point was that we basically ask the intelligence community and the president to declassify as much as possible without giving up sources and methods so that the electors can make a good decision tomorrow.  

WALLACE:  But --   

BEYER:  When Reince was on earlier talking about delegitimizing the American system, it's exactly the opposite.  You know, the whole two-step Electoral College process was to make sure our electors were making the decisions of wise men and women.  

WALLACE:  But that was done back in the 1700s when the communication and what the voters knew and what the electors knew was so hugely different.  What you're in effect calling for is overturning the will of 130 million people who followed this election, who heard the allegations of the Russian hacking, who saw the fruits of it, and don’t -- and know as much as you do.  

BEYER:  Well, exactly the opposite.  I mean, Donald Trump is only the president-elect, only is appointing cabinet members and -- because there's a two-step process.  Because if it was just the will of the American people, Hillary Clinton would be the president-elect.  It's that two-step that Electoral College process that has Mr. Trump in the position he's in right now.  So, let's honor that and give them the information they need to make a good decision.  

WALLACE:  Mr. Pell, I want to pick up on what Reince Priebus said in the previous segment.  Isn't this really a partisan effort by Democrats to either overturn the election or if you can't overturn it, to call questions about -- call into question Trump's legitimacy as the president?

PELL:  Absolutely not.  I believe in the Constitution, and I believe that this is a real process.  And I also believe that Donald Trump will be selected as president, and I support the peaceful transfer of power.  

But in the meantime, we have a meaningful role to make sure that the American public has this information and to make it absolutely clear that no foreign government should be able to get away with this.  And I would suggest that the president step away from Twitter and start standing instead with the men and women of the intelligence community and getting on board with the bipartisan commission to make sure that we have the facts as the American people.  

WALLACE:  But let's look at who is supporting your effort.  John Podesta, who was the chairman of the Clinton campaign, said that your letter, the electors letter, "raises very grave issues involving our national security."  

And some Hollywood celebrities sent this message to electors.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By voting your conscience, you and other brave Republican electors can give the House of Representatives the option to select a qualified candidate for the presidency.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is evident is that Donald Trump lacks more than the qualifications to be president.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He lacks the necessary stability.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And clearly the respect for the Constitution of our great nation.  


WALLACE:  Mr. Pell, they're not talking about Russian interference.  They're basically saying we don't like Donald Trump, we voted against Donald Trump, and here's one more chance to try to stop Donald Trump.  

PELL:  That's not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about protecting this country from foreign intervention.  That's something that should -- we can all agree on.  Donald Trump will be selected as president tomorrow.  And I look forward to hopefully having him change his tone and stand up against the Russians.  

WALLACE:  How many Trump electors are you aware of who are going to jump ship, who are going to defect, and not support Donald Trump?  

PELL:  I don't think that's in the cards.  I think what is in the cards is there are Trump electors who don't want to be out there publicly but who do want this information, who do want to know who is involved and make sure to protect the integrity of the democracy, including for President-elect Trump, that no foreign country can do this in the future.  We should have the facts.  

WALLACE:  But here's, I guess, the question I have.  Let's say it's all true.  And, you know, you have a consensus from the CIA, the Department of National Intelligence, and the FBI that there was Russian interference.  So what?  I mean, obviously, it's bad and you want to stop it and you want to have cybersecurity.  

But why hold Donald Trump accountable for that?  

PELL:  Donald Trump was on this show one week ago disputing that claim.  He was saying that the FBI disagreed with the CIA.  

WALLACE:  Right.

PELL:  He was suggesting that this was all some -- he would not be holding the Russians accountable.  

That is what we should not be doing.  We need to be clear that the Russians were involved and we should get the information out there.  

WALLACE:  But does it in any way call into question Donald Trump's legitimacy as president?  

PELL:  No.  Donald Trump will be selected tomorrow, and I will stand by the will of the people, speaking through the constitutional process that we have.  The reason I’m here today is to defend that process.  Until we change the Constitution, the Electoral College has a meaningful role, and intend to uphold my oath to the Constitution.  

WALLACE:  Congressman Beyer, here's what I don't understand.  If they were successful, perhaps not Mr. Pell, but some of the others who want to see 37 electors defect and either vote for Clinton or somebody else, it would just be -- well, not if they went for Clinton -- but let's say it was a tie, nobody got 270, and it was thrown into the House.  Each state delegation gets one vote.  Let's put up where the count stands.  

In the new Congress, 32 states have GOP majorities, 17 have Democratic majorities.  There's one state that is tied, split down the middle.  

Wouldn't Donald Trump just win in the House?  

BEYER:  Well, a Republican would win in the House.  There's really no expectation that an elector that deserts Donald Trump will vote for Hillary Clinton.  They're more likely to vote for a different Republican, Kasich or whoever.  

And I disagree a little with my friend Clay about the legitimacy of the Trump election, in the sense that if we have clear evidence that Paul Manafort, that Roger Stone, that General Flynn, even the last Trump press conference, the last one back in July, where he ended the press conference and turned to the camera and said, hey, Russians, go hack Hillary's e-mails, there's enough there we should see the intelligence reports and let the electors make a good decision.  

WALLACE:  But you don't have any evidence of any coordination?  

BEYER:  Oh, I haven't seen the intelligence reports.  

WALLACE:  OK, one last --  

BEYER:  But certainly the --  


WALLACE:  One last quick question.  Do you really think Hillary Clinton lost the election because of Russian interference?  Because right after the election, you were quoted as saying we lost touch with white working class rural America, two-thirds of Americans think we're on the wrong track.  

You didn't talk about Russian interference.  You basically said the Democratic Party is out of touch.  

BEYER:  Well, I think there are many reasons why she lost that election.  And the Russians may be a piece of it.  And I don't know how many votes it actually moved.  So, let's let the commission, as Clay talked about, and the intelligence reports that we hope to see.  

WALLACE:  Gentlemen, thank you.  Thank you both for coming in today.  We'll see how the Electoral College votes tomorrow.  

Coming up, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the Russian hacks and the push to get GOP electors to vote for someone other than Donald Trump.  


WALLACE:  Coming up, a war of words over Russia creates a rift between the outgoing and incoming administrations.  


EARNEST:  Russia was involved.  He was encouraging them to keep doing it.  

CONWAY:  Vladimir Putin didn't tell Hillary Clinton to ignore Wisconsin and Michigan.  


WALLACE:  We'll ask our Sunday panel if this will affect the Trump transition, next on FOX NEWS SUNDAY.



SEN. HARRY REID, D-NV., MINORITY LEADER: I think this is as big a deal as Watergate, as 9/11. And I think they should have a 9/11 type commission.


WALLACE: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid comparing Russia's interference in the U.S. election to American calamities and calling for a full investigation.

And it's time now for our Sunday group. GOP strategist Karl Rove. Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Hill, Juan Williams, president of the liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, and Michael Needham, head of the conservative Heritage Action for America.

Well, Neera, this is personal for you because in the leak of the Podesta e-mails, some of yours came out.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes. A lot of mine came out. And it was covered -- it was covered often. And I think the truth of this is, we've learned a lot over the last week. We've learned that the CIA found that this was not just undue democracy or hurt American, but was really designed for the Trump campaign. The CIA also has indicated that Putin was involved.

And then, over the weekend, we now have heard great consensus about this, which is the FBI agrees as well. And I think the real issue here is, why there isn't more interest on the part of Republicans to find out what has actually happened. I agree with Reince Priebus. We need to know about the what, when, who, why, and where. And that's why we do need an investigation.

We had 33 House committees and Senate committees on Benghazi. You think we could get one committee from the House to investigate this. And I don't understand why Paul Ryan won't put the interest of American democracy ahead of partisanship and call for an independent investigation into this.

WALLACE:  What did you make of Priebus' reluctance to accept the conclusion of the CIA and say he would like to hear directly from the FBI and the director of National Intelligence?

TANDEN: It's not the CIA. It's also the FBI, we’ve learned. I don't understand it. I don't understand why they don't want to know. If there is questions about this, if there's no connection to this election, then let's get all the facts out. If he's so confident about the fact that this didn't help them get elected, then what do they have to hide?

WALLACE:  But even if the Russians were -- the CIA conclusion is correct or the consensus in the intelligence community --


WALLACE:  And the -- and the and the Russian hacking was done to interfere in the election and also to help Trump, is it fair to hold Trump responsible for that?

TANDEN: I hold him responsible for not wanting to give us the facts, to try to say there's nothing here, to throw -- to attack -- attack the intelligence analysts and the Central Intelligence Agency, instead of trying to find out. That's what I hold him responsible for.

I don't understand why, as president of this country, he will be president, why he doesn't want us -- want to -- us to know what happened here.

WALLACE:  What --

TANDEN: This is the case the FBI was investigating. This is a case, that during this election, the FBI was investigating Paul Manafort's role. It’s his connections to Russia. I do not understand why, if they think everything is up and up, why they want to shift information, why they don't want to share this information.

WALLACE:  What --

TANDEN: It does make people wonder what is going on.

WALLACE:  It -- one more question before I bring everybody else in. Do you -- what do you think of the effort by a number of Democrats to urge Republican electors to vote for someone else?

TANDEN: Look, I think the most important thing here is really just getting the information about Russia. I know that there are a lot of electors who are interested in a lot of things that went on here. I think they -- I think the request to have a briefing about this is an appropriate request.


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, let's be clear, the CIA said Russia did not have, quote, "a single purpose." That is to say that the idea that this was all about helping Trump. They repeatedly targeted, the CIA said, both parties trying to get into their systems.

TANDEN: And only one was successful (ph).

ROVE: And -- and let me finish. And they said that this was about a -- an important part of the Russian hacking was aimed at undermining confidence in the American electoral system.

Now, this is much -- I agree there ought to be an investigation about it. I agree that there ought to be -- that's why it was astonishing to me that the CIA would not begin that process last week by giving a briefing to it the House Intelligence Committee as requested. It --


ROVE: Let me finish. I didn't interrupt you.

TANDEN: Sorry.

ROVE: Now, let's be clear, I love all the hyperventilation on the left that this somehow was responsible for Hillary Clinton's defeat. On October 6th, the day before the first WikiLeaks, she was at 48 percent in the Real Clear Politics average. And on Election Day, she got 48.08 percent. Let's be clear what this is about. One, a coup. They're attempting to have 37 electors flip, which is not going to happen, or to throw it in the House of Representatives and somehow have 26 states, delegations, dominated with -- some of them dominated by Republicans, vote for somebody other than Donald Trump. Not going to happen.

WALLACE:  Let -- let me -- let me --

ROVE: But the second --

WALLACE:  Wait, wait, no, wait, let me --

ROVE: Yes.

WALLACE:  Let me bring in Neera.

Is it a coup?

TANDEN: It's absolutely not a coup. I don’t -- the question here is, can we just get information to the country. (INAUDIBLE) the CIA director reached out to Nunes, who would not take his call.

WALLACE:  The House intelligence director.

TANDEN: Absolutely. Yes. He's on the Trump transition. He reached out to him last week. He would not take his call.

ROVE: And he -- and the Trump --

TANDEN: The issue here -- the issue here is --

ROVE: And the -- and the CIA director would not respond to his invitation to come brief the committee Democrats and Republicans.

TANDEN: So I think we should get the information out. So do you -- do you want the House to hold a committee on -- hold a hearing on this?

ROVE: I -- I want the -- I want -- I want the --

TANDEN: An independent investigation?

ROVE: I want the Congress --

TANDEN: An independent, bipartisan investigation?

ROVE: I want the Congress -- I want the Congress to do so, in the right time, but I do not want it to be used --

TANDEN: Right, we agree.

ROVE: As an excuse to delay the -- the constitutional process. This is an effort to delegitimize Donald Trump. I saw this happen in 2002 when Democrats went around saying, Bush is not a legitimately elected president. Many of your same allies were out there saying the same stupid things. And we -- Don Beyer, who sat here, he was quoting "The Washington Post" saying, quote, we're about ready to be saddled with, quote, an illegitimate president. This is all about undermining the confidence in the system.

TANDEN: You know what --

ROVE: After all the pious discussions about, oh, we've got to accept the outcome of the election, Donald Trump. The Democrats are now refusing to accept the outcome of the election and using this controversy, which again I point out had no -- at most the minimums impact on the election.

WALLACE:  OK. I -- I want to -- I want to -- I -- no, I’ve got --

TANDEN: Listen, we can both agree -- I think the truth is here, we -- we now both agree that there should be an independent investigation, and that's great.


ROVE: I want a congressional investigation.

WALLACE:  During the third presidential debate --

TANDEN: I’ll take (INAUDIBLE) --

WALLACE:  I asked both candidates about their willingness to accept the results of the election. Here it was.


WALLACE:  Are you saying you're not prepared now to commit to that principle?

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENT-ELECT: What I'm saying is that I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense. OK.

CLINTON: Well, Chris, let me respond to that because that's horrifying.


WALLACE:  Juan, as you remember, at that time, Democrats were outraged at Donald Trump's response, but aren't they engaged, as Karl suggests, in exactly that now, refusing to accept the results of the election and trying to undercut the legitimacy of Donald Trump as our next president?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's no question, Democrats run the risk of looking like hypocrites given what happened at that expertly moderated debate in October.

WALLACE:  It was pretty good.

WILLIAMS: But -- but, I -- but, in fairness, you know, at the time, what was on the table was the idea of voter fraud, and it was being pushed by Republicans and Trump. Oh, there's so much voter fraud in the country. The -- the race could be tossed to Hillary Clinton illegitimately. He could win the popular vote and be denied the -- all this. That's what he was responding to.

Now we're dealing with something else, which is about Russian interference in the democratic process and tilting the election and news coverage against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump. So when we come to the Electoral College now, you’ve got to remember, the founding fathers -- I just finished a book about the founding fathers. The founding fathers did not design the Electoral College to be a rubber stamp. To the contrary, they think the electors should have the capacity to exercise some discretion.

Do I think that something’s going to -- a coup is going to occur tomorrow? Absolutely not. But it's not the case to say that it delegitimizing Donald Trump for people to ask questions.

WALLACE:  Well, Michael, you’re a -- well you’re --

MICHAEL NEEDHAM, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: But the Democrats don’t -- don’t run the risk of looking like hypocrites, the Democrats are, in fact, being hypocrites. There's a 0.0 percent chance that the Electoral College tomorrow will not vote for Donald Trump as president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: We agree (ph).

NEEDHAM: This is all a distraction. What we should be focused on right now is that Donald Trump is making spectacular appointments to the United States cabinet. I think this may be the best cabinet that the country has had certainly in my lifetime. That is what the issue is at. The issue is that Donald Trump won an election because he connected with people who have real anxiety and that the Democrats would be better serving themselves if they spent their time talking about the economic anxiety that people in this country face.

WALLACE:  But -- but, wait a minute. But I don’t want to do just -- I want to get out of the boilerplate here, Michael. You talk a lot about constitutional principles when you're here on -- is the electors and the idea that they might re-examine, the whole question is to whether or not they support Trump, is that exercising constitutional principles?

NEEDHAM: Sure, but there's no chance that Donald Trump will not be the president.

WALLACE:  I'm not asking about the chances. I'm asking about the principle.

NEEDHAM: It is perfectly valid for the Electoral College to look at it. There is no chance that that will happen. It's possible that an asteroid might come out of the sky and also change the outcome of -- of who's going to be sworn in on January 20th. The fact is that on January 20th, Donald Trump is going to be sworn in as president of the United States because tomorrow the Electoral College is going to elect him president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: I think you are revealing an anxiety --

NEEDHAM: And we should be focusing on issues that our country has and not debating hypotheticals that have absolutely no chance (INAUDIBLE).

WILLIAMS: Michael and I agree that -- that -- Michael and I agree that the Electoral College has the right to exercise some discretion to look and see whether or not this person is properly qualified. But I think what you're revealing, Michal, is an anxiety that somehow because Trump did not win the popular vote, lost by about 3 million, that people would delegitimize.

NEEDHAM: I have absolutely no anxiety.

WILLIAMS: That's what you and -- and Karl are saying. Delegitimize --

NEEDHAM: I -- I'm focused on -- I’m focused on the policy -- I’m focused on the policy achievements that are going to happen (INAUDIBLE) --

WILLIAMS: Let me just assure you, it's over. It’s over. Donald Trump --

NEEDHAM: Obamacare, which is a failing (INAUDIBLE) that needs to be repealed --

WILLIAMS: Oh, please.

NEEDHAM: And I know that’s disappointing to you.

WILLIAMS: Donald -- no, it is -- if that happened.


WILLIAMS: But what I’m saying, Donald Trump -- I think everybody on this panel, including the previous panel, said Donald Trump is going to be put in position to be president of the United States tomorrow.

TANDEN: Exactly (ph).

WILLIAMS: But, boy, on the right, such anxiety about his --

NEEDHAM: OK. So let’s talk about Obamacare --


TANDEN: And it used to be that they gave us lectures on the original intent of the Constitution. I remember Michael and others talking about the original intent. If there is an original intent, it was that electors would deliberate and this election --

ROVE: Tomorrow -- tomorrow they --

TANDEN: They may --

ROVE: Tomorrow they -- they will live -- they will live up to that and enter their judgment and after tomorrow, because you respect the Constitution so much, I know you're going to welcome the new incoming administration as validated.

TANDEN: And -- and you and I --

WALLACE:  Panel, we have to take a break here. But when we come back --

TANDEN: You and I will have that investigation, bipartisan and independent.

WALLACE:  You know, there is other news. The civil war in Syria takes a brutal new turn. We'll ask our Sunday panel about President Obama’s charges that Russia and Iran have blood on their hands from the atrocities in Aleppo.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about Mr. Obama saying he couldn't do more to stop the carnage in Syria? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unless we were all in and willing to take over Syria, we were going to have problems. And that everything else was tempting because we wanted to do something, and it sounded like the right thing to do, but it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap.


WALLACE:  President Obama in his news conference Friday defending his response to the Syrian civil war coming -- his remarks after the fall of Aleppo, which had been the center of rebel resistance.

And we're back now with the panel.

Karl, the president said in that news conference the only way that the U.S. could have successfully intervened was to make a major commitment of troops. Of course we know what's ended up happening, which was the slaughter of 400,000 civilians. Do you buy his argument?

ROVE: No. The president authors a strawman whenever he talks about the Middle East. The choice between doing nothing or half a million boots on the ground. He could have destroyed the air assets of Assad after he dropped barrel bombs, he used chemical weapons, and thereby denied him the ability to do that by air, and didn't. He could have armed the Syrian moderate rebels when there actually were moderate Syrian rebels. He could have backed the initiative of the Saudis and the Jordanians when they wanted American support for their initiatives, and didn't. He could have left a residual force in Iraq, which would have kept ISIS from moving into Iraq, destabilizing a bigger part of the region, opening a bigger door for Iran, and thereby making the situation in Syria more complicated. But 400,500, 600 million dead, millions of refugees, destabilizing --

WALLACE:  Not millions, 400,000.

TANDEN: Not million.

ROVE: Yes, 400,000. A million or two million refugees destabilized in Europe. This is the -- and feckless U.S. foreign policy, these are the -- these are the credits on -- on President Obama's report card when it comes to Syria.

WALLACE:  We asked you for questions for the panel. And on this issue of whether or not President Obama could have done more and his contention that he couldn't, we got this from Christopher Hess on Facebook. "He could not have done more? He didn't do anything. He should have enforced a no-fly zone, created safe zones, and gone directly after Assad and gotten rid of him."

Neera, how do you answer Christopher?

TANDEN: I think the issues are that -- a couple -- there is really live debate whether years ago we could have done more to defend or to help the moderate -- the moderate forces --

WALLACE:  Hillary Clinton, back in 2011, in fact, was urging that they put more support for the Syrian rebels.

TANDEN: Yes. And the question always has been that once you start down that road, it does become one in which what happens when they're slaughtered? Do we defend them? Do you put troops on the ground? He has been concerned about the slippery slope and we have seen that we have taken other actions. Obviously our engagement in Iraq, which is a contributing factor to the destabilization of -- of the entire Middle East and, in fact, an -- a factor in what has happened in Syria has been part of this problem.

But I appreciate the situation in Aleppo is a disaster. What has happened in Syria has -- there are no good answers at this point. And I hope this is one area where you see a different course, perhaps, with the new president-elect. But we aren't seeing that. In fact, we're seeing, you know, his positions on Syria have been to exceed to the Russians. He has argued that the Russians are actually going after terrorists. I think that is a -- I think that is disconcerting that the president-elect would be making these kinds of arguments that are pro-Russian and, frankly, in the interest of Iran in -- in Syria as well.

WALLACE:  Speaking of the interests of Iran, Michael, how much do you think the president's policy or non-policy in Syria was driven by his desire to do nothing to interfere with making a nuclear deal with Iran?

NEEDHAM: A ton. And we see the evidence of it. "The wall Street Journal" has -- has an article out that talks about the fact that -- that when the president was thinking about whether or not to enforce his red line over chemical -- over the use of chemical weapons, Iran came in and said, if you enforce this red line, the nuclear agreement, which has become the kind of -- which he was obviously pursuing, that the -- the nuclear agreement was done -- was dead.

At the time of the nuclear negotiations, "The Wall Street Journal" reported on a letter President Obama sent Ayatollah Khomeini saying that I will not be going after Assad. And so very clearly the president's kind of ambition to get this deal with Iran, this kind of view that maybe if we get Iran on the side we can unite against Sunni radicalism. That world view, which has been a failure and has -- has taken us from the position we were in in 2009, where with the green revolution, you had a chance for a once in a generation change in the regime of -- of one of America’s biggest enemies to the disaster we had. And it’s because of the pursuit of this nuclear agreement, which has been a disaster.

WALLACE:  Let me bring -- let me bring Juan in and then I'm going to come back to you.

Whatever the reason for the Obama policy, whatever the justification, in addition to the -- to the humanitarian carnage that happened here, you -- the fact is that Assad now seems secure in holding on to power and Iran and Russia are stronger in the Middle East. I mean that's not a successful policy, is it?

WILLIAMS: No, I mean, you know, we've got a problem here in terms of Russian influence because I think when we talk about no-fly zones, safe zones on the ground and all that, you have to then enforce them. And that would be the U.S. responsibility to establish such a -- a standard.

WALLACE:  But wouldn't that have been a reasonable thing to do to prevent what we've seen?

WILLIAMS: No. To come back to your question, I think Russian and Iranian influence has grown in the region. And the question was with Russia coming in at first saying to the United States, to President Obama, we will work with you. Just this week, the announcement, the evacuations over coming from Russia, while we know the carnage was continuing, and Samantha Powers at the United Nations saying to the Russians and the Iranians and to President Assad, have you no shame, because they continued this -- this path.

WALLACE:  But -- but -- but my point is, couldn't they have instituted the no-fly zone long before the Russians ever came in? There were two or three years there before the Russians entered. If they had enforced a no-fly zone, if they had taken out the Syrian air capability back at the time of the red line over chemical weapons, none of this would have happened.

WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I think to the contrary you might have accelerated the degree of difficulty in specific, but you would have then had the Russians come in, because the Russians and Iranians had been backing Assad all along. He is their puppet, in my opinion. And they would have acted to protect their interests in the region.

So I think -- and once -- don't forget this. If you take out Assad's air, then you are essentially putting us in there as a force. And the force then might be threatened, not only by Russians, but consider the Turkish government, which had a relationship in terms of oil. Lots of other factors. That's the problem.

And, you know --

WALLACE:  Karl --

WILLIAMS: One last point on this.

ROVE: Yes.

WILLIAMS: To Karl's notion, you know, the American people did not want to go in. Given what happened during the Bush years, Karl’s, they did not want more boots on the ground.

ROVE: Well -- well, first of all, again, thank you for the strawman argument that we need a half a million people on the ground.

WILLIAMS: I didn’t say that.

ROVE: We -- we don’t -- we didn't need that.

WILLIAMS: We don’t.

ROVE: We needed decisive action. And -- and -- and, Chris -- the point that Chris brought up is absolutely right. If we had acted in 2009, '10, '11, '12, before the Russians appeared, if we destroyed the -- the Syrian air bases, there would have been no air bases from which the -- into which the Russians could project their power. President Obama succeeded at something that no president since 1972 has been able to achieve, and that is he has brought Russia back into the Middle East and he has also given greater authority and power in the region to the Iranians by a consistent series of foreign policy failures.

Yes, if we had acted earlier with -- Hillary Clinton was right, in 2009, '10, and '11, if the United States had not had a feckless foreign policy leading from behind, if we had taken decisive action and backed up the words of the president -- it was not a Republican. It was a Democrat who said --

WALLACE:  All right, 30 seconds, Neera, and we’re -- then we’re out of time.

TANDEN: The -- the -- and the real truth here is we don't know. There are a lot of hypotheticals on both sides. What's happening now is a disaster. What I think would be great is for people who are so open to criticism of Barack Obama, Barack Obama has never said, you know, it's good what the Russians are doing because they're going after ISIS when they’re slaughtering innocents. And I wish, Michael, you would be as critical of -- of President Trump's policies, which are actually helping Russia and pro-Iran. He’s -- President Obama has never --

NEEDHAM: (INAUDIBLE) Trump right now. He will be held accountable (INAUDIBLE) foreign policy --

TANDEN: There --

WALLACE:  All right, guys --

NEEDHAM: Your foreign policy --

WALLACE:  Guys, we're going to continue --

TANDEN: If this -- if this is -- if this is (INAUDIBLE) that you’re not willing to make that criticism.

WALLACE:  I wish you could be here, folks, because we're going to continue this during the commercial. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

You ran right through the red light on both panels.

Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." A slice of Las Vegas opens on the Potomac.


WALLACE:  D.C. is known for its majestic, marble monument. But last week, a new landmark added some glitz and glamour to the area. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."



WALLACE (voice-over): Jim Murren is chairman of MGM Resorts International. And he's talking about the newest Washington landmark, the MGM National Harbor Casino. Located on a bluff just outside D.C., it looks like something from "Star Wars."

MURREN: Standing here and looking at the Washington Monument and across to old town, up and down the Potomac, I've never seen a sight like this, honestly.

WALLACE:  And when it opened at 11:00 p.m. recently, there was a nighttime traffic jam.

WALLACE (on camera): How many people do you expect to come here?

MURREN: A day? I think there will be 20,000, 30,000 people a day.

WALLACE (voice-over): There is a huge casino.

MURREN: It's larger than the White House in terms of its square footage. And it's energetic.

WALLACE (on camera): How much money can you make in a casino in a day?

MURREN: If don't make $200 million a year, someone's going to have a chat with me at the boardroom.

WALLACE (voice-over): And only half that revenue is projected from gambling. There are 15 restaurants and high-profile stores, like Sarah Jessica Parker's first boutique.

SARAH JESSICA PARKER: It's not just being in New York or Chicago. It's a very unique organism, right?

WALLACE:  And there will be entertainment, like Cher and Bruno Mars in a 3,000-seat theater.

MURREN: I promised a lot of people a billion-dollar resort. I didn't spend a billion dollars. I spent a billion four. And -- because I just got into it.

WALLACE:  There is even a conservatory.

WALLACE (on camera): This is going to change four times a year?

MURREN: So this will be up through the holiday.

WALLACE:  Right.

MURREN: And then during Chinese New Year’s we'll have a different display, and then another one in the spring.


MURREN: We're going to feature cherry blossoms.

WALLACE (voice-over): Murren says they decided to put Las Vegas on the Potomac because Washington already attracts millions of visitors who have money to spend and are looking for more things to do.

WALLACE (on camera): A few months ago you said that this resort will blow Donald Trump's downtown hotel away. Do you stand by that?

MURREN: Yes. I love beautiful hotels. I stay in beautiful hotels. But we didn't build a hotel here. We built an entertainment hub.

WALLACE:  You know he's not going to like that.

MURREN: You know what, I respect him immensely, but from an entertainment component, I mean, come on.

WALLACE (voice-over): There's another element to the project, it will generate 4,000 jobs.

MURREN: Eighty percent of the employees here are people of color. I represent an industry, the gaming industry, of almost 2 million Americans. It's the pathway to the middle class, this -- this industry.

WALLACE:  One more point about the casino on the hill. In deeply polarized Washington, Murren says this may be the only thing everyone can agree on.

MURREN: Republicans, they can't wait to come. Democrats, can't wait to come. There's not as much to do in D.C. as people would like. And that's where we come in.


WALLACE:  Another highlight of the complex is the artwork, including a piece from singer/songwriter Bob Dylan.

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

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