Sen. Johnson: Presidents should be able to select their advisers; Ashcroft: Senate hearing 'vindicated' Sessions

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," January 15, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good Sunday morning, everyone.

The time has arrived. Donald Trump set to be sworn in as 45th president of the United States this upcoming week.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Thanks so much for joining us right now on "Sunday Morning Futures".

Meanwhile across town, a new investigation set to begin on the handling of the Hillary Clinton emails scandal, leading up to the election.

While Republican House Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz threatened an investigation into the government's top ethics watchdog. He will join me live coming up, along with former Attorney General John Ashcroft, looking ahead to the hearing.

Plus, seven more Trump cabinet nominees preparing for tough questions on Capitol Hill this week. Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson will be part of the two of those hearings. He'll join me momentarily.

And President-elect Donald Trump with harsh words, fighting back on a civil rights icon who said Mr. Trump is not a legitimate president. Our panel on that as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now.


BARTIROMO: This upcoming week, we will be watching the ongoing Senate confirmation proceedings for President-elect Donald Trump's nominees to his cabinet and leadership team. More hearings are slated this week on Capitol Hill after several nominees last week appear to contradict the president- elect in some positions on Russia. His choices to leave the Pentagon, CIA and State Department.

Now, seven more hearings are set this week for picks, including Betty DeVos as secretary of education, Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, and Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department. Also, Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary.

I want to bring in Senator Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin, and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Good to see you, Senator. Thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-WIS.: Good morning, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Your takeaway from the confirmation hearings last week and then I want to look forward to get your take on what we might hear this upcoming week.

JOHNSON: Well, I chaired the hearing on General Kelly for secretary for the Department Homeland Security, a person who just high integrity, a background that's just perfectly suited this moment time to be the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, a four-star general, a gold star parent. I think he will sail through to the confirmation process, hopefully be confirmed on the same day.

I was obviously there with the Rex Tillerson in hearing, in the Foreign Relations Committee. I thought Mr. Tillerson did, an excellent job, showed himself again to be highly intelligent, highly competent from my standpoint, somebody with the temperament in the intelligence to really be a first-class first-rate secretary of state.

So, from my standpoint, I was very pleased with the confirmation hearings that I attended.

BARTIROMO: Do you think that was among the most contentious, the Rex Tillerson hearing? I mean, I recognize that he came across solid strong, in command of the subject for sure. But Marco Rubio obviously was pushing back, trying to get him to say that Vladimir Putin was a war criminal.

JOHNSON: You know, Maria, the secretary of state is going to have to deal with the leader of the other world's nuclear superpower and I don't see how it benefits anybody to back the secretary of state and corners of name- calling when he's going to have to sit down and deal with that nation. I'm not sure this is true or not, but I don't recall any other senator forcing or pushing either Secretary Kerry or Secretary Clinton to name-call that significant a world leader.

So, listen, the facts are there. I certainly am extremely wary of Vladimir Putin. We've held hearings on his propaganda on his different disinformation campaigns about the political assassinations that occurred during his tenure there as the leader of Russia. So, I'm incredibly weary, but I just don't see what good it does, putting a label that's going to prevent the next secretary of state and the next administration from dealing with somebody's going to have to deal with.

BARTIROMO: Now, we know this morning U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul said that he will vote for Tillerson for secretary of state. Senator Paul also says that the Obamacare replacement bill would let small business band together to buy health coverage. Do you think that there's any way that there is enough push back to keep Rex Tillerson from becoming a secretary of state?

JOHNSON: I mean, I hope not. You know, Maria, for decades, well before I'm ever entered this realm, I've listened to two senators from both parties talk about how elections matter, how it's incredibly important that a president, whether you agree or disagree with him, has the cabinet members and advisors that agree with his position and senators from both parties have voted for to confirm people that they don't agree with, but they recognize that it is -- it is important to be very differential and give presidents great deal of attitude to select their own advisers.

So, it'd be pretty hypocritical of the senators to go back on what they said the past from that standpoint. I think it's -- you know, particularly this moment in time.

BARTIROMO: Yes. I mean --

JOHNSON: With the problems we have internationally that that we don't allow President Obama or President-elect Trump to select the people are going to really run his foreign policy and really keep our nation, our homeland secure.

BARTIROMO: Look, you would think that everyone is in the same boat in terms of wanting a peaceful transition of power. Having said that, there are 17 Democrats right now who are boycotting President-elect Trump's inauguration.

JOHNSON: Listen, I understand people weren't happy with the election results. I wasn't happy with the election result in 2008 and 2012, and yet, I voted to confirm the vast majority of the nominees that the President Obama put in front of the Senate.

So, I guess people have to get over that.


JOHNSON: They have to realize Donald Trump will become our next president and we all want to succeed.


JOHNSON: We are in perilous times right now. We've got to strengthen our economy, so we can strengthen our military, so I can defeat ISIS, secure our border and keep our homeland secure.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you about what's happening this upcoming week, because, of course, you've got Wilbur Ross on the docket for commerce secretary. That's on the 18th. Scott Pruitt for the EPA. Nikki Haley, U.N. ambassador.

What are you expecting -- Rick Perry obviously for energy which you'll be there. What are you expecting out of these hearings and what will be most important in terms of the pushback on this slate of group of people?

JOHNSON: Well, I'll be involved in the Nikki Haley and the Wilbur Ross hearings. I was also surprised how the Democrats turned the Rex Tillerson hearing into a referendum on climate change again. I'd imagine will do the same thing with Nikki Haley.

I met with Wilbur Ross and, quite honestly, somebody who I'm certainly somebody who's for free but fair trade and I was actually pretty, pretty well-comforted by a Wilbur Ross' understanding that yes, we have to engage in free trade and I think what this administration will do is really address the real abuses of many of our trading partners as relates to a free-trade with America.

So, I think they got the head screwed on right from the standpoint. I think he'll make an excellent of commerce secretary.

BARTIROMO: You know, I was reading earlier in the news. Peter Thiel, the technology executive, the founder of PayPal, who, of course, was very present out there for Donald Trump at the Republican National Committee, is considering a bid to run for California governor. What do you think about that?

JOHNSON: It will be an interesting selection.

Listen, Maria, I'm really looking forward to working with an administration that is not only headed by somebody from the private sector and business, somebody who's accomplished things, gotten real results, be surrounding himself with other people, highly intelligent, highly competent from the privacy sector.

You know, I'm a business guy, come from private sector. It is perspective that is largely missing in Washington, D.C., which you otherwise I think we have such gridlock and we have so many problems with so many programs.  People don't look at metrics. People don't run things in Washington, D.C., and as for example, you have to run the private sector.

You have to succeed in the private sector to go on long-term, oftentimes in government failure allows you to get more funding. So, it's a completely different perspective and I think it would be very refreshing perspective that bunch people in the private sector starting to run a government.

BARTIROMO: Right. Well, this is what I'm getting at. I mean, why I bring up Peter Thiel, because for the first time in a long time, you've got people who have managed to employees, created jobs, managed a balance sheet and it's all business.

And so, that's part of the pushback on the left, but it's a completely new approach, it will be interesting to see if actually this works, versus what we've seen.

JOHNSON: Way too often, career politicians about the only thing the accomplishment life is getting elected and then once an office, what are they primarily trying to do, stay elected. Again, in the private sector, you have to get results. You have to accomplish things day in and day out.  You're going to come with a mindset, whether it's the governor of California or president of United States and his cabinet members, to start getting results.

Take a look at the disastrous Obamacare and fix it, using metrics.  Completely different mindset.

BARTIROMO: Senator, good to have your insights. Thanks so much.

JOHNSON: Have a great day.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. We'll be watching those confirmation hearings next week. Senator Ron Johnson.

The testimony for President-elect Trump's choice for attorney general is now over. When will the full Senate get it say and we'll questions about Jeff Sessions civil rights record have any impact on the boat? I'll talk with former A.G., John Ashcroft, coming up next.

Follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiromo, @SundayFutures. Let us know what you'd like to hear from former Attorney General John Ashcroft as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures".



SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA., ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I know it was wrong.  I know we need to do better. We can never go back. I am totally committed to maintaining the freedom and equality that this country has to provide to every citizen. And I've -- I will assure you that that's how I will approach it.


BARTIROMO: That was Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions this past week, defending his record at his confirmation hearing to become the next attorney general, questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee is wrapped up. And now, we await a full Senate vote, expected sometime after Friday's inauguration.

Democrats are raising worries about Session's civil rights record when he was Alabama's attorney-general. They point to accusations of racism that sank his nomination to a federal judgeship 33 years ago.

I'm joined right now by John Ashcroft, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush.

Mr. Attorney General, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.


BARTIROMO: Your thoughts around the noise around Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing. How do you think he handled that and do you think he'll get confirmed?

ASHCROFT: Well, I do think you'll get confirmed and based on the fact that he's an excellent nominee, sometimes people view hearings as a way to indict a nominee. This was a hearing that ended up indicating the nominee.  These thirty-year-old charges had been in the sort of a cloud of misinformation. And when the truth gets out, when you know the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say, Jeff Sessions was revealed as an individual committed to the rule of law, the equity of all citizens before the law, the necessity to protect all citizens.

And the cases that they raised that were supposed to reveal him to have prejudice revealed him to be a person who with equity and understanding of the necessity for the civil rights of law, he acted in those cases very well, and then in ways that we ought to be proud of as a culture that has put racism, is seeking to do everything we can to put racism and discrimination behind us.

Jeff Sessions has demonstrated that he's that kind of person.

BARTIROMO: The people want to see the rule of law and they want to see the law followed. You and I have spoken a lot in the past, Judge, about the politicization that has gone on in so many of these agencies. What do you want to see from the next attorney general with regard to that politicization in reversing it?

ASHCROFT: Well, I don't think that we want to have a retributive attorney general who decides to do to the other side what has been done to his side.  I think we need a person dedicated to the rule of law. In other words, politics doesn't enter into decisions about whether a person is indicted.  No person is so high that they can't be prosecuted and no person is so low that they can be protected.

The rule of law is the touchstone of American liberty and we need that.  And Jeff Sessions, his career, I've known him for two decades now and his career is dedicated to equity, inequality of people, as they stand before the law without preference either because of their position or their station in the culture.

BARTIROMO: And, of course, one such agency that comes to mind is the Department of Justice. We know that Loretta Lynch met on her private plane with Bill Clinton two days before Hillary Clinton had to testify. Now, we've got an inspector general review of the Department of Justice and the FBI handling of the Hillary Clinton email case.

First off, Judge, should Jim Comey resign?

ASHCROFT: Well, I don't think -- I'm in a position to say that. I think the fact that they'll be an independent investigation is something that we should welcome. Mike Horowitz, the inspector general of the department, is a good person. I expect the investigation to include judgments about and an awareness of the meeting on the tarmac between the attorney general and then whether the attorney general did in fact recuse yourself. That's very vague.

And I think vagueness in the context of justices always a difficult circumstance. Liberty should be clearly defined in the way in which we act to protect people's rights should be clearly defined. And if, in fact, she did recuse herself and transfer the responsibility to Director Comey, that's problematic, and I would expect that to be addressed because it moved the decision-making responsibility out of the area of prosecutorial discretion into an arena that's just investigative. But even if you're going to appoint a special prosecutor or have one appointed, normally, a person who recuse himself shouldn't be the person to select the individual that access special prosecutor.

So, there are a lot of things here that Mike Horowitz will be considering and hopefully, we can learn from these circumstances how better to run the department in a way that respects the rule of law and the rights of all of our citizens.

BARTIROMO: And, Judge, before you go, real quick on sanctuary cities.  What do you want to see done should Jeff Sessions become the attorney general? It's extraordinary to me that we have rules in place and yet they're just blown off in in many cities across the country.

ASHCROFT: Well, we need to learn to cooperate again as a nation and the divisiveness that's been promoted in the political environment has hurt us.  The idea that cities and states would be in revolt against the federal government and its laws should have been settled in the civil war. We are one nation under God and it's time for us to take the steps necessary to both cooperate and to demand the cooperation of people to enforce the laws of the United States.

The laws enacted by the Congress are the supreme law of the land and they should not be undercut or eroded or otherwise devalued by individuals who set themselves up as individuals that can some somehow disobey them. The civil war should have settled that. If we don't like the laws, the Congress has a responsibility to adjust the laws.

The idea that there is some ability to undermine, erode and pull the rug out from under the equity of the laws as applied across the nation is in an inappropriate idea and it's counterproductive to the kind of unity that Americans should have.

BARTIROMO: Absolutely. John Ashcroft, good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks so much.

ASHCROFT: I wish you well. Thank you.

BARTIROMO: And to you. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Up next, preventing cyberattacks. One of the main objectives of the incoming Trump administration. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, named a cybersecurity advisor. He'll join me next live, as we look ahead right now on "Sunday Morning Futures".



PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people, and I can say that, you know, when we lost 22 million names and everything else that was hacked recently, they didn't make a big deal out of that. That was something that was extraordinary. That was probably China. We had -- we have much hacking going on.


BARTIROMO: Hacking, cyberattacks becoming a major challenge in talking point at the U.S. government over the last several years. President-elect Trump creating a new taskforce as he works to keep the country secure.

The Trump transition team announcing former New York city mayor and Reagan associate attorney general, Rudy Giuliani, will advise the president-elect on cybersecurity issues. He joins me right now live.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

RUDY GIULIANI, R-FORMER NYC MAYOR: Nice to be with you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: So, if we know that Russia, China, North Korea, others have been hacking us for years, how can we haven't done anything about it?

GIULIANI: Well, we have tried to. We haven't been successful in coming up with anything close to a complete defense to cyber crime, and it's much beyond China and Russia and -- it's the fastest growing form of crime in the United States. It's the fastest growing form of crime in the world.  It affects regular people. It affects businesses. It happened millions of times a day.

And it's something we've allowed our information technology to get way ahead of our defenses. In our zeal and our eagerness to gather information and move it quickly and analyze it thoroughly, we've forgotten that you've got to defend that information. It's like we're taking that information out of the safe where it used to be and used to be locked up. Now, we're putting it in the -- in the cloud and one was locked up, we kept it pretty safe, and now, we haven't created defenses that we need.

This is something that President-elect Trump knows a lot about, something he has been involved in private business. He was one of the people that recommended much more robust defense with a Republican Convention and Republican National Committee and it's something where he wants to bring the private sector in so that they can share with him and then also really his administration their problems and their solutions. So that together, private sector and government maybe if we all kind of sit down and work together, we can come up with a better defensive, stronger dissenters more robust defenses. Some people are doing it much better than others.

BARTIROMO: But will they work with government? I mean, I remember when we were trying to open an Apple phone of the San Bernardino terrorists and the technology sector would not do anything in terms of helping government find that terrorists find out what was on that phone because of privacy concerns. So, do you actually see major technology companies who can actually see who's hacking or can access this assisting government?

GIULIANI: Well, I do. I really believe this problem has become so bad and so difficult, you know, I talked about visit fastest growing form of crime.  I guess the other thing I could say is it's one of the major threats to our national security.

There's nothing that worried the current administration, meaning the Obama administration, more than an attack on our grid. That comes from both the head of the FBI and the head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. Their major concern and I assume it's going to be the same for the Trump administration, is the ability of foreign enemy or maybe a terrorist or just malicious people that might try to attack our grid do what Russia did part of the Ukraine.

BARTIROMO: Would you recommend Donald Trump doing anything to Russia, increasing sanctions, doing something to push back or punish Russia for whatever role they had in terms of hacking around the U.S. election?

GIULIANI: Well, that isn't my -- that isn't my role. My role is to act as the chairman of the committee if people from the private sector who are going to bring to him private sector problems and private sector solutions, because I believe that a lot of these problems are solved sometimes better in the private sector than they are in government, although I think government solves part of the problem better than the private sector.

I'll tell you where I think we are really strong and that is in the immediate support of the protection of our defense systems, and we can learn a lot from that. I've learned a lot in studying that. As far as how you respond to it, I think that should be kept -- that should be kept as something that the government decides, the government decides a classified matter.

If you're asking me, does the United States have the offensive capability of other countries, I can tell you without doubt we do and better. Our problem is not -- our problem is not our ability to go on offense --


GIULIANI: -- through cyber. Our problem is we don't have sufficient defenses to get it us to a level where we can feel that we're safe as we should be. And that's going to be part of my job and my colleagues, and that is to get the private sector to work together with the public sector.

If we did this with cancer, we might get a cure to cancer. Set people down in a room and they all talked about their solutions, we might end up with a cure.

BARTIROMO: Real quick, Rudy, I'm going to speak with Jason Chaffetz, Congressman Chaffetz, right after you. Obviously, the inspector general is reviewing the Department of Justice and the FBI's handling of the Clinton case.

I mean, can you connect the dots here? Is there any reason to believe that having this private server in a basement and unsecured government emails opened us up in any way for Russia or anybody else for that matter to hack during the election?

GIULIANI: Well, yes, I think I Jim Comey said that the probability that a server was hacked, I don't remember the words that he used, but it was a basically almost definite that people that acted and gotten into it, they couldn't prove it because they didn't have it.


GIULIANI: I mean, she destroyed everything. So, we don't know what happened.

But the chances that they were hacking one secretary of state and not the other would be kind of stupid. Of course, it was hacked.


GIULIANI: And the reality is this investigation and I think Attorney General Ashcroft was quite eloquent about this better be complete because this all begins with a private server. It also all begins with Loretta Lynch having that secret meeting with Bill Clinton.


GIULIANI: Yes, and it was -- it was a secret meeting, it had to be discovered, and it was pretty organized. I think there's evidence that might suggest it was pre-organized. So, somebody's got to take a look at that and then did she recuse yourself?

When you recuse yourself, you write a memo.


GIULIANI: And then you turn it over to your deputy. And then your deputy handles everything. I don't -- I'd never have seen that memo.

BARTIROMO: That was John Ashcroft was questioning as well actually. You raised the right point.

Mr. Mayor, good to see, sir. Thanks so much.

GIULIANI: Good to see you. Thanks, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We appreciate. Rudolph Giuliani joining us right there.

Lawmakers are speaking out about the Department of Justice inquiry to how the FBI director handled the Clinton email investigation. Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, next, discussing the new developments as we look ahead of "Sunday Morning Futures."


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Some lawmakers expressing support for a Justice Department investigation into how the FBI handled the Clinton email probe. FBI Director James Comey getting criticism for the timing of his letter to Congress reopening that email investigation, just days before the presidential election.

Joining me right now is Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Congressman, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: Thanks for having me on.

BARTIROMO: What you like to see down here?

CHAFFETZ: I'd like to see a thorough review of what happened from top to bottom, because I think Democrats have some legitimate concerns about timing, I think a number of Republicans have questions about a Bill Clinton that this spouse of somebody who was under investigation, meeting with the attorney general. We have Peter Kadzik who was evidently giving information to Democrats. He's the legislative liaison. That's the question.

You have conflict of interest that questions about the FBI, where the number two or three person at the FBI, his wife, is running for political office in Virginia. It gets some $30 or so, or at least in that neighborhood and the timing of that maybe should have prompted this FBI official to reach -- to step away from the Clinton investigation.

So, there's a lot of questions on both sides of the aisle and the best way to do that is to have the inspector general's the next year my cohorts and find out the truth.

BARTIROMO: Well, how will you ensure that the inspector general does go through all of those things? I mean, for the most part, you've heard Clinton basically blame Jim Comey for her not winning the election, basically say, well, you know it's his fault that he came out with the pushback two days before the election three days before the election. I mean, that's the basic crocks of the criticism from the left, and they're not necessarily talking about the fact that Loretta Lynch, the leading law enforcement person in the country had that meeting with Bill Clinton on the plane.

So, how do you ensure that actually those things are going to get covered?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I think Hillary Clinton lost the election for a lot of reasons, probably first and foremost that Donald Trump had a better message and a better vision for America. But I think for some people, it was a contributing factor because this investigation I think pointed out that Hillary Clinton was wide and light again and couldn't be trusted.

Nevertheless, Michael Horowitz is the inspector general. He's widely respected attorney He had some people there at the Department of Justice in the inspector general's office to do this investigation. I think he has a great deal of credibility on both sides of the aisle, and a year or so from now, I would hope that he would come before our committee and explain and answer questions from both sides of the aisle -- of the aisle, what he did -- what he found and what was going on behind the scenes.

BARTIROMO: Yes, you know, it's interesting that we don't hear more about that meeting -- I mean I think reporters just tripped over the meeting with Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton. It was a private meeting for 45 minutes, and they were no aides in that meeting taking notes.

CHAFFETZ: Yes, this is highly suspicious, because it seemed to set off this domino effect were, suddenly, then you have the FBI director doing something that is generally unprecedented, and that is giving the press conference and him taking the lead as if he was the prosecutor. Our read of what the FBI supposed to be doing is investigate then turn over that material to the attorney general's office to make a determination about prosecution. But for him to wear both hats, why did he have to do that?  And what were the ramifications of that?

Were they stepping out of their normal processes? And I think Democrats and Republicans both that criticism for how it was handled.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you to look ahead for us and tell us a bit about your agenda and what you're expecting to be overseeing and handling in the next four years. I know that it's a lot broader are they in terms of measures to fire feds faster, paced some feds more, change the retirement system for new hires. What are your priorities, Congressman?

CHAFFETZ: Well, the first two years where I've been the chairman, we heard time and time again, people in the federal government saying, we can ever fire somebody if we do have a bad apple. Most government workers, they are actually good, decent, patriotic people. But sexual harassment and sexual misconduct for instance within the federal workforce, we need to define that, even within the Department of Justice, they have different standards, different definitions, different penalties.

So, civil service reform. We're also looking at retirement reform, because if you want to change the financial trajectory of the -- of the budget and the deficit and the -- this massive, massive debt. You're going to have to look at how we compensate federal employees and for future generations, there's a lot of reform that we can do. So, I think you actually see more reform now that the Republicans have the House and Senate and the presidency, and our committee will be a vital part of that.

BARTIROMO: Do all of the positions change with the new administration?  For example, what about the head of the IRS, Koskinen, who you know, Republicans have been asking for his head now for years ever since targeting conservatives?

And what about Jim Comey? Should he step down?

CHAFFETZ: Some of these are appointed for set terms, but I think the president does have great latitude in these. I would like to be John Koskinen go. I think he is not serving the best interest of the United States of America. I think he should have departed a long time ago.

But they're about 4,500 presidential appointments, political appointments that the president gets to make and it's going to change the trajectory of the government. I'm -- I couldn't be more excited.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, good to see. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Maria.

BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Jason Chaffetz there.

Let's get a look at what's coming up top of the hour on "MediaBuzz". Here's Howie Kurtz.

And, wow, do you have a full plate of topics to go through this weekend, Howie.


We've got Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, leading off the program, talking about his criticism of BuzzFeed and CNN over that unverified dossier. Congressman John Lewis' remarks about Trump being an illegitimate president. We'll get Spicer's reaction.

Also, Martha MacCallum on covering Trump's first hundred days. Trish Regan on Trump's business empire and how he's going to deal with the conflicts, and just a deep dive on the media ethics surrounding the coverage of this president on the eve of the inauguration, on media buzz.

BARTIROMO: All right. We will be there. We'll see you in about 20 minutes, Howie.

A civil rights icon, longtime member of Congress, says he is going to mix the first inauguration, saying that the president-elect is not legitimate.  We're going to get into that with that panel, next, Mr. Trump's response, as we look ahead of "Sunday Morning Futures" right now. Back in a minute.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Well, a war of words this Martin Luther King holiday weekend between President-elect Donald Trump and an icon of the civil rights movement.  Georgia Congressman John Lewis saying in an interview that aired today that he does not consider Donald Trump to be a legitimate president, that Russia helps propel him to the White House and that he will not as a result attend the inauguration.

The president-elect responded with several treats. His latest says this.  Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime- infested inner cities of the United States. I can use all the help I can get.

Now, our panel. Ed Rollins is former campaign manager for the Reagan-Bush ticket in 1984. Mary Kissel, a member of the editorial board of "The Wall Street Journal", Hank Sheinkopf, former Democratic consultant for the Clinton-Gore campaign.

Good to see, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us.

John Lewis saying that President-elect Donald Trump is not legitimate.

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's foolish to say that.  He won fair and square, and at the bottom line is whatever the Russians may have done or not done, it didn't affect votes at the end of the day, and John Lewis who spent his life basically trying to register voters during the civil rights movement ought to appreciate every vote and every vote counts.

BARTIROMO: It's pretty extraordinary, though. I mean, Mary, Democrats are blowing off the inauguration. He's one of them -- to basically say, I don't like it. What happened to the peaceful transition of power?

MARY KISSEL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think what you're seeing is the poison politics of the Obama era being carried over by Democrats into the Trump era. And frankly speaking, Maria, I don't think it's good politics for the political left. They're depending seats in the Senate, 10 of which Donald Trump won, five of which are an important swing states.

This is the time to look back at the last election and say, where did we go wrong? I think when you see comments like that, not only is it bad politics, but it's also damaging to the polity.

You know, you can look back to 2004, Bush v. Gore. That's I think one Democrat said, if you lose, you don't have to just sit back and understand why just blame the other side and try to delegitimize them. And it's dangerous. It's bad for the country and I think bad for their party.

BARTIROMO: I feel like, Hank, even if you were not a fan or voted for Barack Obama on that inauguration weekend, everybody was proud. The country was proud that we were at a moment in time and we were celebrating new leadership. Why can't they do it this time?

HANK SHEINKOPF, FORMER CLINTON-GORE CONSULTANT: Because they've all lost their minds. There's something wrong about --

BARTIROMO: Yes, you're right.

SHEINKOPF: When I want celebrities to tell me how to live, I'll watch a movie and maybe they'll jump out of the screen and tell me how to live.  The truth is, yes, people are -- some people are angry and they're upset.

But you know what? This is democracy. We go on to the next. We support the president, support the Congress. We go forward.

Will it -- will it matter in two years? I don't agree that will be so important in two years now that people will be paying attention to the midterms, but it's not good practice to rip apart of government. It's just not.

KISSEL: That they can't compete -- they can't compete on ideas, so then they have to defame and they have to isolate and they have to label Trump, instead of saying, you know what? We have better ideas on this side of the aisle and here's why.

ROLLINS: I promise you, next Monday, you can do a poll of who was John Lewis isn't and was he in the inaugural and no one will know. The best tweet that Trump has given so far and I'm not a big fan of all the tweets that he does, but I think the tweet that he sent out on this one, let's work together on solving the problems in the inner city was a very positive thing.

BARTIROMO: I mean, the inner cities exactly. I mean, look at Chicago, and yet the constituents of many of these people who are blowing off the inauguration, they're saying, why don't you work together? That's what we want.

KISSEL: You know, one of the best moments at the nomination hearings this past week was Ben Carson, when he was asked about the Department of Housing and Urban Development, what he was going to do, what's the best way to reform it, and he said, get people out of public housing. And I thought that's exactly the mindset that you want in the federal government.

BARTIROMO: Yes, sure is.

All right. We're going to talk more about the confirmation hearings, what's ahead next week.

Plus, the technology billionaire and a Trump supporter reportedly considering a run for California governor in 2018. Would you like to see Peter Thiel run? We get that on deck with our panel next "Sunday Morning Futures".


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Mr. Trump's choices for health, education, and commerce secretaries, as well as potential U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, just a few of the nominees with scheduled hearings in the Senate this upcoming week.

Let's talk about what we heard last week, what we're going to hear this week.

First off, who's going to get the biggest challenge in your view in these confirmation hearings?

ROLLINS: I think the first hearings went very well. I think Tillerson basically got through what could have been a rough hearing, particularly on how we can have this feeling with Putin.

The tough hearings ahead are going to be DeVos because the educational unions are going to be on and I think she'll get through. And Pruitt as the EPA administrator, all the environmental groups have come out against him, but I don't think that's enough to stop. I think they all get confirmed.

BARTIROMO: This is a big one. The EPA, Mary, marry because much of the new regulations that have come out of the Obama administration in the last few years have been around the EPA, and from the EPA.

KISSEL: Yes, and I think the EPA is essentially a lawless agency, going beyond the bounds of what they are mandated to do, but also failing in their core mission. I mean you think back to Colorado, had poisoned the Animas River, they missed the Flint water poisoning.

Scott Pruitt is a guy who understands the power of federalism, have successfully challenged the EPA, and he's not the typical Republican appointee to that agency. I mean, Republicans usually a point people like Christine Todd Whitman or essentially you know soft Democrats. So, I think the left understand this is a real threat to their EPA activism and they're going to push back very, very hard.

BARTIROMO: So, that's the one --

ROLLINS: And this administration has been so active at the EPa, both the EPA agency itself and the president with this regulation that's making hard --

SHEINKOPF: Well, Republicans proved long time ago, 35 years ago, I think, when Tom Kean ran for governor of Jersey believe he could bring Republicanism and environmentalism together. That Pruitt vote is going to very serious.

A lot of people on both sides of the aisle are going to be watching it.  It's not just the left issue. It's a right issue, in places like New Jersey, we have a lot of problems in other states. We have Republicans environmental issues matter significantly.

BARTIROMO: You know, it's funny, because you mentioned the Flint crisis, scandal, whatever you want to call it. The president has been sort of vocal about that he's had no scandals in his presidency.

The Flint water crisis I would say is a huge glaring scandal, and I don't know --

KISSEL: So much as a V.A.

ROLLINS: So, he forgets the IRS.

BARTIROMO: Well, that's another one. And, of course, Benghazi. We can do a whole list.

But what how do you think Rex Tillerson and the other said last week, Hank?

SHEINKOPF: I think Rex Tillerson performed extraordinarily well. I thought frankly that that would be the one of the one of the proposed the nominees that proposed cabinet members will have a lot of trouble. But he knew how to do it, he got through it.

KISSEL: Well, importantly, he used the word "assertive" when he talked about America's role in the world, which is a sea change from the Obama years. He also called China's moves in the South China Sea a taking, building islands in international waters. He called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a taking -- very hawkish, assertive language.


KISSELL: And he also reasserted America's role as, you know, the defender of human rights and universal values, and that's also very refreshing coming after the Obama administration.

ROLLINS: He looks the part. He was very, very articulate. I thought he didn't hesitate at all.

BARTIROMO: Well, he's dealt with a lot of these bad guys around the world, that's for sure.

ROLLINS: You have -- there's no way you could not have confidence that he could basically --

SHEINKOPF: You can -- you know, look, it's not all sounds good, watch the hands, not the mouth, you know? It's one thing when you talk. It's another thing when you're in power. Watch the hand.

BARTIROMO: That's a good point.

Real quick, let's talk about Peter Thiel for a couple of minutes here, reports that he is actually considering a run for governor of California.  Can he do it?

ROLLINS: He certainly could be the nominee because there aren't very many significant Republicans and he certainly can self-fund. That is not necessary been a path to victory in California. California has been an overwhelming Democrats state today, and the way it works today, it's the two top people who get to go on. And to get a Republican in there, he's going to run a real campaign, just to be challenging to one of the serious Democrats that are out there.

BARTIROMO: What do you think, Mary?

KISSEL: No. Yes, Republicans have tried and failed. Meg Whitman, Neel Kashkari, but he could do a service if he goes out for instance to the Central Valley, the Latino community, and explains why a vote for Democrats is a vote against job creation, and it's also a good symbol to Silicon Valley, which overwhelmingly votes for Democrats who want to regulate and stifle the businesses that made them rich.

SHEINKOPF: Billionaires don't win in California, whether they're Republicans or Democrats. The best a consultant will ever have the Republican side is that big deal runs.

BARTIROMO: Well, we didn't think that a billion could win the president of the United States either, just saying.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

ROLLINS: He won without spending his billions, though.


All right. That will do it for us, "Sunday Morning Futures". Thanks for being with us. I'll see you tomorrow morning on "Mornings with Maria" on the Fox Business Network. Join me, 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Stay with Fox News right now. Here's Howie Kurtz and "MediaBuzz."

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