This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," February 19, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
Donald Trump campaigns to rally his supporters just one month into his presidency.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m here because I want to be among my friends and among the people.
WALLACE: After lashing out at his critics --
TRUMP: The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.
WALLACE: And denying he colluded with Russia to win the election.
TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.
WALLACE: The president defends the start of his administration.
TRUMP: Chaos -- there’s zero chaos. We are running -- this is a fine-tuned machine.
WALLACE: We’ll discuss where Mr. Trump goes from here with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Plus, Trump responds to a barrage of criticism from the media.
TRUMP: We are not going to like the fake news tell us what to do, how to live, or what to believe!
WALLACE: We’ll discuss the combative relationship between President Trump and the establishment with conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, live in a rare television interview.
Then, the GOP splits over what to do about the Trump agenda.
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY: I’m for complete repeal of Obamacare, and the House leadership is putting forward Obamacare light.
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel if the divide will keep the president from fulfilling some campaign promises.
And our Power Player of the Week -- we revisit an old friend in her last week in the U.S.
Wow. You’ve grown up.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
President Trump is punching back against critics especially in the media who say after just 30 days in office his administration has gone off the tracks. He made his case this week in an extraordinary news conference, and then yesterday in Florida in a campaign-style rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are here today to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I hear your demands, I hear your voices, and I promise you that I will deliver. I promise that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Joining us now from Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach is White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Reince, I want to start with President Trump’s --
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Good morning, Chris.
WALLACE: -- tweet on Friday afternoon. This is what he wrote, "The fake news media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people."
Reince, the president believes that a free and independent press is a threat to the country?
PRIEBUS: No, I think -- I think for the most part -- and I understand where he’s coming from -- is that there are certain things that are happening in the news that just aren’t honest. And we’re not talking about everyone, Chris. We’re not talking about all news, but we’re talking about something that I guess he’s termed as fake news.
Let me give you an example. First of all, The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I have been approved to say this -- that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it.
And so, if I can say that to the American people, then what does it say about the story?
The next day, Chris. The Wall Street Journal puts out a story that says that they have anonymous sources that say that the intelligence community is purposefully cutting out material from President Trump's briefing material that he gets everyday. That then proved to be untrue. All of the agencies put out a statement saying it was totally inaccurate.
Then, we get --
WALLACE: Reince, I get the fact that you don’t like -- I get the fact that you don’t like some stories. First of all, you made some news there at the top and I want to a follow up on that.
You say, because you’ve said before, you weren’t part of the campaign, so you cannot speak to that. You say that the intelligence community says that there were no contacts between anyone in the Trump campaign, any associate of Mr. Trump and anybody involved as a Russian agent as to the campaign and collusion in the campaign with Russia? Is that what you're saying?
PRIEBUS: Yes, they’ve told me -- absolutely. They have made it very clear that that story in The New York Times is complete garbage. And, quite frankly, they use different words than that, OK?
WALLACE: Who is it that said that?
PRIEBUS: And then when I read back --
WALLACE: Who is it that said that?
PRIEBUS: I’m not going to tell you. I can’t tell you that.
WALLACE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Reince. You just complained about unnamed sources, you are using an unnamed source.
PRIEBUS: Well, because I didn’t ask for approval to use their name. But I will tell you this, when I say top level people, I mean top level people, OK?
WALLACE: So, no collusion whatsoever between anybody involved with Trump and anybody involved with Russia in the 2016 campaign?
PRIEBUS: No. And if you look at Devin Nunes’ comments in the actual paper on the record, Chris --
WALLACE: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
PRIEBUS: He was briefed by the FBI. And what did he do? He turned around and went on the record and said that this story is complete garbage, OK? So, here we are --
WALLACE: Here's the problem. Reince, wait a minute, here’s the problem -- I don’t have any problem with you complaining about an individual story. We sometimes got it wrong, you guys sometimes got it wrong. I don't have any problem with you complaining about bias.
But you went a lot further than that, or to the president went a lot further than that. He said that the fake media, not certain stories, the fake media are an enemy to the country. We don’t have a state-run media in the country. That's what they have in dictatorships.
PRIEBUS: OK, listen, Chris, it’s not just two stories. Then, it’s followed up by 24 hours a day, seven days a week of other cable stations, not necessarily FOX, that all day long on every Chyron, every seven minutes are talking about the Russian spies, talking about the intelligence community, talking about how me and Steve Bannon don’t like each other, and what’s Kellyanne doing? All this is just total garbage, unsourced stuff.
Listen, there is nothing wrong with background. Reporters need background information. We need to communicate with reporters and give reporters context.
All I’m saying, though, is if you are going to come out with this -- if you’re going to come out with this story that says Russian spies are talking to your campaign, my God -- I mean, you actually -- I think that you should in some cases or in most cases actually have a named source.
Look what we’ve done. We’ve repealed TPP. We have signed a coal bill to save the coal industry. We named Neil Gorsuch. We de -- put a --
WALLACE: And you know what, Reince?
PRIEBUS: -- to deregulate the federal government.
WALLACE: Wait a minute, we and all of the other cable channels have covered live the announcement of Neil Gorsuch.
WALLACE: We have covered live a lot of these other events. We have covered live an hour and 15 minutes the president’s news conference.
PRIEBUS: Hiring freeze --
WALLACE: Here’s the problem, when the president says we’re the enemy of the American people, it makes it sounds like if you are going against him, you are going against the country.
PRIEBUS: Here is the problem, Chris -- the problem is you’re right. Some of these things were covered, but you get about 10 percent coverage on the fact that you get a very successful meeting with Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of the U.K., the prime minister of Canada --
WALLACE: We covered all of those news conference live. Everybody did.
PRIEBUS: Right. Sure, yes, for about -- yes, right. But then as soon as it was over, the next 20 hours is all about Russian spies --
WALLACE: But you don’t get to tell us what to do, Reince.
PRIEBUS: -- nothing is happening. Give me a break.
WALLACE: You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I got to say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.
PRIEBUS: Let me tell you something, he said a lot of things about Fox News, Chris. I thought you ought to go check the tape. He blamed you for a lot of things. And I’m surprised, as someone from Fox, that you forget all of the shots that he took --
WALLACE: No, he took the shots. And we didn't like it. And, frankly, we don't like this either, because, you know -- but he never went as far as President Trump has and that’s what’s concerning because it seems like he crosses a line when he talks about that we’re an enemy of the people. That is concerning.
PRIEBUS: I think you should be concerned -- I think you should be concerned about mainstream news outlets that are acting like, you know, Washington daily gossip magazines instead of the way it used to be where you would get a few sources on the record -- yes, you will need some background, and maybe, yes, you will need some anonymous sources.
But to accuse an organization of being in constant contact with Russian spies is outrageous. Every day, it’s something different. It’s some other source that is absolutely untrue. Instead of talking about the things that are going on --
WALLACE: All right. Can I ask you about --
PRIEBUS: -- that you’re doing every single day.
WALLAC: I need to ask you another question about Russia, but you will be delighted to answer. In his news conference this week, President Trump defended former national security advisor, now former, retired General Michael Flynn, in his phone call with the Russian ambassador.
Here’s the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would've been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I want to be precise here. The president doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his pick -- he wasn’t then in office -- for national security advisor calling the Russian ambassador to talk about -- we are going to review and with distinctions precisely on the day that President Obama imposed those sanctions because Russia had interfered in the U.S. election. He doesn't think there is anything wrong with that?
PRIEBUS: I don't think there’s anything -- our legal department looked at this too. I don't think there is anything with the subject of sanctions, or news sanctions coming up. I don’t think that that in and of itself is wrong. And I think that’s what the president is saying --
WALLACE: I’m talking specifically about his phone call at this time.
WALLACE: -- President Obama who was so outraged --
PRIEBUS: I don't know why you are so --
WALLACE: No, no, because --
PRIEBUS: I mean, it’s fine that you’re so going bananas here, Chris. Look --
WALLACE: I’m not going bananas. I’m asking you about the fact that it seems odd that the president of the United States, then Barack Obama, imposing sanctions because he says that Russia had interfered with, undermined our election and you’ve got Mike Flynn calling the Russian ambassador and saying, well, don't worry about it. We’ll review the sanctions.
And you don't think there's anything wrong with that?
PRIEBUS: Well, you don’t know he said -- you don’t know he said that. What the president is saying that if the subject of sanctions -- the news sanctions came up, that in and of itself is not a problem. You know, how does -- when you have a national security advisor that’s calling 30 different leaders a day, there are a lot of topics of the day that come up. What are these people supposed to do? Not talk about --
WALLACE: Why did the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, warn the White House counsel, Don McGahn? And why was it not called at a meeting, and you were met with Bannon and the president -- why would all of that happen? Obviously, there was something troubling --
PRIEBUS: What do you mean why did it happen? Because Sally Yates -- because Sally Yates alerted and gave a heads up. It was later determined that there was no investigation ongoing. We looked at the matter, the legal department determined that there was nothing illegal that happen in the conversation. But then the issue turned to whether or not Michael Flynn was being honest and direct with the vice president. And, ultimately, the president determined that it was an unsustainable situation. And he fired, or he asked for a resignation of Mike Flynn.
WALLACE: And let me ask you -- Reince, let me ask --
PRIEBUS: I mean, that’s what happened and what’s --
WALLACE: Let me ask you about that timeline if I might, because the acting attorney general notified the White House on January 26th about discrepancies between what Flynn had told Vice President Pence about the call and what transcripts showed Flynn had actually said. But while the president and Steve Bannon and you all knew, the vice president didn’t find out until he read it in the paper on February 9th. Question: why didn't you as chief of staff tell the vice president over the course of 14 days?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, here's what happened: Yates came in, give a heads up to the White House counsel. White House counsel looked at the matter. The next day or the day after, the investigation was closed and no longer going on. Then, the issue shifted to whether something was done that was wrong.
The vice president was then looped in on the situation. We talked to the vice president about whether or not Michael Flynn was being honest or not. The vice president knew that there was an FBI interview. And then, ultimately, we decided after about ten days, bring in the vice president in that we decided that he wasn’t being honest.
That is the timeline. It happened very quickly, Chris.
WALLACE: But the vice president says that he didn’t know for 14 days that he had been misled by Michael Flynn.
PRIEBUS: No, the vice president knew that we were -- what the vice president did not know, I believe, was that Sally Yates gave an initial heads up to Don McGahn. But once that -- once the next day came, and that investigation was closed, Chris, that topic didn’t come up again.
This whole conversation shifted to whether or not Michael Flynn was honest with the vice president.
PRIEBUS: He was then looped in on the conversation, and it was determined that he wasn’t. That was it.
WALLACE: OK, OK. One final question -- we’ll have a better conversation next time, Reince Priebus.
PRIEBUS: All right.
WALLACE: The president is now trying to find a new national security advisor -- in fact, he is interviewing a number of people today. At least two candidates, Bob Harward and David Petraeus have reportedly been passed over because they wanted more control of how the National Security Council operates.
Question: is the president insisting that a political operative, Steve Bannon, play a major role in national security which appears to be a concern for some of these candidates?
PRIEBUS: Yes. No, the answer to that is no. And the answer to the first part of the question is number one, the issue with Admiral Harward never came up. And we haven’t really gone down the road with General Petraeus.
But as to the staffing at the NSA, the new NSA director can do whatever that he or she wants to do with the staffing at the NSA.
WALLACE: But when you said no, are you saying that Steve Bannon -- the new NSA director can say, "I don’t want Steve Bannon as a formal member of the National Security Council"?
PRIEBUS: The president -- the president has said very clearly that the new NSA director will have total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC, and there is no demand made by President Trump on any candidate for NSA director at all.
PRIEBUS: So, again --
WALLACE: Because it’s very unusual to have a political operative in that role.
PRIEBUS: So, those reports that you’re citing -- those are more fake news stories that are completely untrue. We never put demands on an incoming NSA director, and the NSA director can do whatever he or she wants to do with the NSC and the makeup of the NSC. And the president has been very clear on that topic.
And again, here we go, talking about more news articles that are not based on facts.
WALLACE: But you know what I did, Reince?
PRIEBUS: We push back on it, but our word doesn't matter.
WALLACE: I asked you about it, and that's how good reporters find out whether or not something is true.
PRIEBUS: Well, you’re a good reporter, because you’re a good reporter.
WALLACE: Reince, thank you. Thanks for your time today. Always good to talk with you, sir.
PRIEBUS: All right. Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, the one and only Rush Limbaugh joins us live with his take on the administration's first month and what he says is the effort by the left to sabotage the Trump presidency.
WALLACE: Love him or hate him, Rush Limbaugh is the king of conservative talk radio, 20 million people listen to him each week on close to 600 stations across the country. He’s also written a new children's book called "Rush Revere and the Presidency".
And Rush Limbaugh joins us now live from his EIB studio in Florida.
Rush, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday." Always good to have you, sir.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW": Thank you, Chris. It’s great to be here.
WALLACE: You say that what’s happening to Donald Trump right now is that the left-wing courts, the left-wing media, the left-wing bureaucracy are trying to, in your words, sabotage his presidency. Sabotage?
LIMBAUGH: Well, actually, I do. And I -- it’s driven by two things, actually. The first thing that’s going on, Chris, in my view, it is preposterous to believe that the Russians had any effect on the outcome of voting in this country. It’s absurd. There is no evidence. Zilch, zero, nada.
The New York Times has run two stories that are basically propaganda on this -- one in October, and one this past week. And both stories clearly say: no evidence. Nobody they’ve talked to has any evidence whatsoever to suggest it.
The second thing I think that’s important for people to remember -- people that voted for Donald Trump, people who support Donald Trump really, really believe that they were going to lose the country if Hillary Clinton won. This is not an idle thought. It’s not an exaggeration.
They really believe that the country is founded was up for grabs. It was over if Hillary won -- if the Democrats had another four or eight years to do what they do with the judiciary and so forth.
So, those two things -- and I think that if you try to understand both of those -- not to you personally -- but the people have a much greater ability to understand Trump and his supporters if you can intellectually accept those two premises.
WALLACE: You also use a phrase which I have to say that I only heard for the first time in the last couple of weeks, "the deep state". And that’s the notion that there’s an Obama shadow government embedded in the bureaucracy that is working against this new president. I think that some folks are going to think that’s right on and some folks will think it’s awfully conspiratorial.
LIMBAUGH: Well, I would love to claim credit for that, but actually, I think a reporter by the name of Glenn Greenwald at "The Intercept" who has got a relationship with -- what’s his name? Assange. I think he actually coined the term. And I think it works.
I don’t think -- who is driving this business that the Russians hacked the election? It’s the Democrat Party. It’s Hillary. It’s Obama. It’s all those people who just can’t accept --
WALLACE: And you think they’re behind the leaks, too?
LIMBAUGH: Absolutely. Of course, they are. They’re trying -- look, if they can’t win at the ballot box -- you know they are down 1,200 seats since 2010. They’ve come a marginal party electorally. All they’ve got is their embeds in the bureaucracy and the judiciary, and they are pulling out all the stops. There’s no question.
This business that the Russians hacked the elections, this is serious, serious allegation that is impossible. The Russians could not have had any impact whatsoever on voting. Either how they were cast or how they were counted.
In fact, if you want to say that they did, they did their job, Hillary won the popular vote. How could they have possibly had any -- this whole premise, and it’s been driving news coverage here ever since Trump took office and even before. And there’s -- you don’t need any more evidence than that to suggest and to know that the left, which is run by Obama and Hillary and the hierarch of the Democrat Party is doing everything they can to undermine, sabotage, and to prevent Trump from implementing his agenda. There’s no question about it.
I know what Trump should do.
WALLACE: Well, I’m going to get to that in a second. But you suggest that there are some things that President Trump may be doing wrong. For instance, you said that you’re skeptical about his idea and we heard it again from Reince Priebus, that they’re going to come up with a new executive order on the so-called "travel ban", and that this new one is going to pass muster with the federal courts. You’re skeptical about that.
LIMBAUGH: Well, I don’t -- I think -- I -- not so much skeptical. I think they’re going to do it and I think they should do it, because the judiciary, again, is pockmarked with judicial appointees that Democrat presidents have made for years and they’re in there for life. We have seen it in the first executive order.
You know, Chris, his executive order hasn’t been ruled on. The judge in Seattle said, well, the president said during the campaign that he wanted to ban Muslims and I think (INAUDIBLE) -- it’s irrelevant. They’re not even using the law to try to stop the president on this.
I think what the president has to do and I was happy to see it. This rally was something that I hope he would do. And in the rally, he really focused on domestic agenda.
Look, here's the thing: Donald Trump has nobody helping him other than the people who voted for him. Obama had the media, Obama had the judiciary, Obama had all kinds of support. In an Obama press conference, the difficult question: what enchants you? I mean, Obama was never challenged seriously by the media.
Trump doesn’t have any of that. He’s got to keep his supporters on board. He’s got to keep them revved up. So, the rally was great.
But the thing that will really make all of this Russia stuff and all these deep state stuff not to take hold is getting to work, implementing the repeal of Obamacare. Getting to work and really doing tax reform, and getting to work and really shore up our borders, because that is the primary area where people voted for Trump felt that we were on the way to losing the country.
We’ve even lost the definition of immigration. Immigration today, if you listen to the left, equals anybody who wants to come into the country should be allowed. That’s not what immigration is. That’s illegal immigration. And we ought to all oppose it.
We are all in favor of immigration that determines that gets in, the quantity of people who get in, whether they assimilate or not -- nobody is opposed to that.
But immigration has been defined now as people flooding the country who are noncitizens. And that’s called immigration, according to the culture of the left. We’re -- we’re just ruining our opportunity to stay together as a people with common culture --
WALLACE: I want to get to this question focusing on the domestic agenda because interestingly enough, that’s something you’ve been saying. He needs to focus on the key things that would improve people's daily lives. There is a columnist for "The Washington Post" who is no conservative, and he actually wrote this week, and I don’t know whether he’s going to give you a heartburn. He said, "Rush Limbaugh is exactly right about how Donald Trump can fix his problems," namely focus -- ignore the political chatter and focus on the domestic agenda.
But I’ve got to tell you, by historical standards, by this point, Obama stimulus had already been passed. President Trump is pretty slow on Obamacare, is pretty slow on repealing Obamacare. Pretty slow on tax reform. And there’s a lot of disarray inside the Republican Party on Capitol Hill.
LIMBAUGH: Well, now, here I have to tiptoe. We are not talking Republicans and Democrats opposing Trump. We’re talking about establishment versus Trump. Trump considered to be an outsider.
The establishment doesn’t want any part of Trump. They don’t want him to succeed. And I would throw some Republicans in that as well. It’s just the way that Washington works. And this is why you think moving forward on this agenda is crucial.
You mentioned Obama stimulus, here’s the difference -- and this is what Trump supporters know -- it wasn’t a stimulus. It was the payoff to unions, Chris. It didn’t stimulate anything. We don’t have a growing economy. We don’t have jobs being created -- at a replacement level for those we have lost.
We don’t have anything Obama said. He lied about --
LIMBAUGH: This is important stuff.
WALLACE: No, I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m just saying, at least he passed his program, and President Trump hasn’t passed any of his programs yet.
LIMBAUGH: Well, of -- it makes my point. Here you have, I tiptoe again.
WALLACE: You’re not very good at tiptoeing.
LIMBAUGH: Well, it is television. It’s Fox News. I have deep respect.
But, no, seriously. You have the first African-American president. You have everybody falling all over themselves to acknowledge that, to reward that. Obama was going to get everything he wanted in the first year because if anybody opposed it, they were going to be accused of being racist, or bigot, or who knows what.
But don’t ignore the substance. The voters know that his stimulus -- it doesn’t matter when it got passed, he misled everybody about it. The people of this country are tired of being misled. They’re tired of voting based on what candidates have told them they’re going to do and nothing ever changes.
Trump has a wide berth here, Chris. The media did not make Donald Trump, and they can’t destroy him. But the media thinks, and I -- when I say media, let me defined, ABC, CBS, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, L.A. Times, the cadre.
They have a formula. They have a blueprint for destroying Republican political officials they don’t like. It’s not going to work on Trump. He doesn’t fit that mold. They are trying to every day. It’s kind of comical to watch.
And my point about the domestic agenda --
WALLACE: Wait, wait, I’m not interrupting because we agree, I’m just moving you along. I want to stay on this media issue, because you heard my conversation just now with Reince Priebus, and tell me what to think. When Trump sends out a tweet and says "the fake media," and all those organizations you just listed "are not my enemy, they’re the enemy of the American people," does that go too far?
LIMBAUGH: Well, again, not to his voters. His voters --
WALLACE: I’m asking you. What do you think of it?
LIMBAUGH: I think that there’s something to it. Enemy of the people, enemy of the state, they are enemies of Trump. And Trump won the election.
Trump won -- on substance, Trumpet did more interviews. He explained his agenda more than any political presidential candidate ever has in my memory. And he has tried to stick to it as people perceive it.
And this effort to stop him -- this is what people include, anti-American, anti-this -- it clearly is anti-Trump. And Trump has a connection with his voters that most politicians don’t have. I understand perhaps better than anybody in media. And that connection that he has is not anything that anybody else can break. Only he can break it.
WALLACE: And I’ve got about a minute left, so I’m going to ask you to keep the time on this.
LIMBAUGH: Is that all?
WALLACE: As you look -- no, you’ve been doing great. As you look at where they are one month in, is he in good shape? Is he in trouble? Is -- what’s the state of the Trump presidency? One minute.
LIMBAUGH: My in-person (ph) -- well, it depends who you ask. If you ask the media, they want people to believe that it’s chaotic and falling apart and it’s already over. Trump’s defeated. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. And -- and everybody’s running away from it. And we’ve got people in the deep state or whatever trying to sabotage Trump in order to save America.
I think he’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do. And I -- and the bottom line, I don’t really think he’s fazed by all of this. I know Donald Trump. He’s a winner. He’s committed. And he has intended all along to do what he think is necessary to save the country. So perceptions are what they are. Keep an open mind. We’re only one month in and he’s got three years and -- and 11 months to go. And I -- his supporters have nowhere near gotten to the point where they’re worried or want to abandon him. They hope he hangs in. They hope he just continues to stick it to them. And they want to see this agenda move. And, believe me, that’s the magic here. Get tax reform, Obamacare repealed, and he’s -- he’s -- he’s free.
WALLACE: Rush, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. Always good to talk with you. Please, come back.
LIMBAUGH: Thank you very much, Chris. And I appreciate this very much. I really do. Always a pleasure.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss President Trump’s effort to seize control of the narrative for the media.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the president's first month in office? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The White House is running so smoothly. So smoothly. And, believe me, I and we inherited one big mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump as his rally on Saturday, pushing back on reports his White House is in disarray.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. GOP strategist Karl Rove, Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Charles Lane of The Washington Post, and Kimberley Strassel from The Wall Street Journal.
So, Karl, which better describes Donald Trump’s first month in office, chaos or a fine tuned machine?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I would lean more towards the former than the latter. But let’s give him credit, on substance, off to a strong start. A cabinet that’s turning out to be impressive. Moving ahead with some regulatory changes to Obamacare. Republicans on The Hill beginning to wrangle over what legislation to repeal it. Tax reform, again, wrangling, moving it forward.
WALLACE: So why chaos?
ROVE: Well, because the process. We saw that in the immigration executive order. They don’t have a process in place that is collaborative, that -- that will -- that puts cabinet secretaries with disagreements over White House policy in front of the president to make their arguments. They were rushed. They did it by using congressional staffers who didn’t tell their bosses. And as a result, they’re going to have to have a redo. But, you know, that’s the -- we’ve got to give him credit. He’s -- he’s -- he’s moving forward in a lot of ways.
Spectacle, boy, off the charts. I mean early morning tweets, controversies about Meryl Streep's ability to -- to act, and then that blockbuster of a -- of a news conference. I mean he -- that -- the whole purpose of which was to allow him to vent at the media. He looked Pharaoh with a whip in hand, whipping those slaves, getting them to build the pyramids. I mean by -- he was unhappy.
But what I really worry about is the narrative. And Rush touched on this.
WALLACE: Oh, OK. Let me -- let me bring Mo in.
Same question, report card on President Trump’s first month?
MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, look, generally not good, right, and -- and I think he’s learning that he cannot govern the way he campaigned because there are other players here. He cannot just go out there and do what he wants to do, and there are other players here.
But having said that, let’s remember this. He had about 46 percent of the vote, right? About 38 to 41 percent consistently, throughout the -- since the day he announced he was running for president through today are with him. They are not going to move. And Rush talked about that. They are going to stick with him. For them, he’s doing a great job. For them he’s moving with speed. He’s poking his finger in the eye of the establishment. Whether or not he actually produces doesn’t really matter because he’s the guy who’s going to keep doing that.
But now you’ve got about five to eight percent of Trump persuadable voters and they’re watching this spectacle. And I'm not sure what they are seeing. They are not seeing a domestic agenda moving forward. They are not seeing a guy who is actually fighting for them when he’s mired by conflict of interest stories every single day. Those are the people to watch.
WALLACE: There is another aspect to this first month, and that is the pushback by the establishment, various sources, and we asked you for questions from the panel, and we got a lot like this, a tweet from George who writes, "what other president has faced as much resistance in their first month in office? Where did the honeymoon go?"
And the question, I guess, I have for Kim is, when you look at all of the -- of the damaging leaks from the intel committee, or the FBI, when you look at the kind of rock-solid obstruction from Democrats, when you look at -- at a lot of negative stories from the media, does George have a point?
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, he has an absolute point. It’s remarkable that Donald Trump has accomplished what he has. I mean you were talking about this earlier about asking Rush whether or not there was some sort of conspiracy within the administration. I don’t know if you need to go that far, but it is very clear --
WALLACE: Well, he said conspiracy within the government. He’s saying --
STRASSEL: Within -- within the government. The bureaucrats.
STRASSEL: Well, look, I mean you had Sally Yates. She need -- she refused to implement.
WALLACE: Assistant -- I mean the acting attorney general --
STRASSEL: Acting attorney general who had to be fired because she would not go and defend the immigration order. This week Scott Pruitt was confirmed, but not before we saw a remarkable display of EPA employees calling their own senators and demanding that he not be confirmed and put into office. There clearly is a significant part of the bureaucracy that’s actively working against them. And, you know, the bigger story, in my mind, about Michael Flynn and this resignation was, who was behind the orchestrated takedown of this guy? Somebody clearly in the intelligence community.
WALLACE: Chuck, would you agree that this president is facing much stronger headwinds, much stronger -- more concerted opposition than previous presidents a month in?
CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, for two different reasons. Let's just look at the last time we had a -- a first term, first month. It was Barack Obama in 2009. The country was in the middle of an economic crisis that seemed to cry out for rapid action from Washington on the one hand, and on the other hand he had 60 votes in the Senate, so you really couldn’t stop him. So there was a lot less resistance for those very good reasons. But then over here --
WALLACE: They just also didn’t get the resistance from the news media. Some would say that -- that it was very compliant and -- and you certainly didn’t get resistance from the -- the deep state, I’m now loving the expression --
LANE: You sure got a lot -- you sure got a lot of -- you sure got a lot of resistance from the problems. But let me make my second point. Of course you’re getting resistance from all these sort of establishment agencies, if you like, because Donald Trump himself came in promising to attack them, promising to disrupt them, promising to take them down. What does he expect them to do, just stand back and let him, you know, destroy their influence and their power? Of course there’s going to be resistance.
But, you know, he -- it’s not as if he avoids provocation of these people, particularly the media, as you have been pointing out. He relishes this combat. A lot of what he’s complaining about as resistance and so forth is resistance that he himself is provoking for the very political reasons that Mo is describing. For his base, a battle with the media is wonderful. It’s almost as good as actual policy change because it makes -- it confirms their world view. It confirms their view of what’s wrong with the country and its terrific politics.
WALLACE: OK. We have to take a break here, panel.
When we come back, we’re going to drill down on where President Trump's legislative agenda stands and his escalating attacks on the media and whether they work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., HOUSE SPEAKER: We are hurting American manufacturing and jobs. We are putting a bias against making things in America in the tax code.
TOM COTTON, R-ARKANSAS SENATOR: Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them. This is a theory wrapped in speculation inside a guess. Nobody knows for sure what will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Two Republican leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Tom Cotton, disagreeing sharply about a key element of tax reform, a border adjustment tax.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Well, let's start with President Trump's legislative accomplishments so far. At this point in 2009, let's put it up on the screen, Congress had passed the Obama stimulus package, which Rush just told us wasn’t a stimulus, a measure enforcing equal pay, and expanding the children’s health insurance program.
But now, Kim, Republicans are still arguing -- and we saw it there about tax reform -- they’re still arguing and seen in some form of disarray about Obamacare repeal and replace. And there’s a lot of complaints from Republicans about a lack of guidance from the Trump White House.
STRASSEL: I actually couldn’t disagree more. And I think this is one point where Trump actually has a point about some of the coverage. All these endless stories saying that house Republicans are in disarray, they’re not. They’re going to come back, after this presidential recess, they’re going to present a consensus plan for Obamacare. It’s going to include a lot of really major changes, not just repeal plus --
WALLACE: But what about the differences? And I mean I -- you know, you’ve got differences about Medicaid expansion and what happens to that money, whether you’re going to pay for this, what the cost is going to be, what the access is going to be.
STRASSEL: Well, right, because they’re taking their time to deliberate this. I mean you mentioned the stimulus bill. The reason that was passed so quickly is because President Obama said do this and everyone in the Democratic Congress said, great, we’ll jump, how high? There was no deliberation and it ended up not being a very good bill because no one spent a lot of time on it.
And one other thing, too, I mean, whether or not you think that the Trump administration is working like clockwork, the House and the Senate have been remarkable. They have passed -- the House has passed more than 12 disapproval resolutions of various different Obama last minutes regulations. Three of those have gone through the Senate. The president has signed two of them. And Mitch McConnell, in the Senate, has been running cloture votes like you wouldn’t believe, getting -- we finally got Mitch Mulvaney confirmed this week for OMB, Scott Pruitt. So in the face of enormous Democratic intransigence, I think they’ve been accomplishing a great deal.
WALLACE: So, Chuck, I’m -- am I all wrong when I talk about the slow start legislatively for the Trump White House?
LANE: Well, yes and no. It’s --
WALLACE: Well, at least I batted 50 percent there.
LANE: Yes, well, I always say that, you know. Look, it -- it’s not so much the number of the bills, it’s the content of the bills. And it’s true that at the beginning of the Obama administration you had this very major legislation. Well, the one thing those all had in common were, they were giving things. They were spending money. They were -- you know. And what the Trump and GOP agenda is, is, let's face it, taking things away in the sense of eliminating Obamacare or, you know, overhauling the tax code. So a much more complicated operation by its nature.
What that little sound bite you showed of Tom Cotton versus Paul Ryan demonstrated was that this border adjustment tax plan for corporate taxation that’s been germinating in the House was always going to be a heavy lift in the Senate. There was -- there was always a lot of push back.
WALLACE: And -- and the border adjustment is the idea that you’re going to tax imports coming into the country, but you’re not going to tax exports, and thereby supposedly that you’re going to create more of a market for jobs here in this country.
LANE: Yes. And guess who is located in Arkansas and is dead set against that idea? That would be Walmart, which gets almost all of its -- well, not all, but a lot of its merchandise from China. And Tom Cotton, of course, represents them. And that’s the dynamic of the Senate.
But I just want to make this point. At some point you would think that once the spectacle of bashing the media, and traveling around the country and holding 77 minute rambling press conferences is over, people are going to want to see something in -- in the form of concrete legislation and something from the president in terms of plan and they’re going to have to present that at some point.
WALLACE: President Trump says that part of the problem is that his staff is so busy putting out fake news media fires that they’re -- having trouble doing their work to help the people. Here he is from his news conference this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the media lies to people, I will never, ever let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don’t get away with it. They have their own agenda. And their agenda is not your agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Well, obviously, that wasn’t the news conference, that was the rally, but it was the same message, Karl. And I want to ask you, and -- and, you know, be honest, tell me if you think I’m overreacting about the president's tweet on Friday that the fake media is not my enemy, it’s the enemy of the American people.
KARL: Yes. Well, enemy of the American people. That’s a term we used for the axis powers, and the Vietcong, and al Qaeda and ISIS and the Taliban. I think it was over the top and unnecessary and -- and a furtherance of this administration's bigger problem. The bigger problem is not the fake news stories. The bigger problem is that they don’t have a narrative -- Rush touched on this -- they don’t have a narrative that -- that is based in the reason why they got elected.
One-third of the American people thought the country was going in the right direction. They voted for Hillary Clinton. Two-thirds of the American people thought the country was off on the wrong track and a majority of them, a substantial majority, voted for Donald Trump. Fifty-two percent of the people in exit polls said the number one issue was the economy, 18 percent terrorism, 13 percent immigration, 13 percent for policy. They elected him because they want the economy to be stronger, to create more jobs and bigger paychecks.
And to the degree that he spends his time, as he did in that Friday news conference, it was rock ‘em, sock ‘em. They had a lot of fun. He probably felt great after that. But what he missed was the opportunity to say to the American people, I’m focused on jobs, growing our economy, making your paychecks better, making your communities safer, making your future more prosperous for you and your kids.
And a president has a brief period of time at the beginning of their administration to create a narrative. And I’m afraid that by focusing so much on these leaks, as unfair as they may be, and the -- but he had to be careful about unnamed sources and you ought to be careful about -- he’s the guy who, on the basis of unnamed sources said President Obama was not born in the United States and that 9/11 was an inside job. So, be careful about this. Why don't you stay focused on the things that the American people really care about and use the --the enormous abilities he got and the channels of communication to carry that message.
WALLACE: We’ve only got a minute left, Mo. I’ve got to say, presidents do complain, and as I pointed out with -- with Reince Priebus, I mean, Barack Obama was pretty unappealing. Pretty, I thought, offensive in his constant whining about Fox News.
ELLEITHEE: Look, and I guarantee you, my friends on Hillary Clinton's campaign didn’t necessarily believe that the media was -- was in their corner during most of the campaign with the focus on her emails and -- and a lot of the challenges that she faced. So, yes, there is a natural amount of push and pull with the press.
But as Karl said, I mean, using this type of language, turning people against an entire institution that are the bedrock -- that are part of the bedrock of our democracy is -- is dangerous. And this president does have an opportunity right now. He’s a master communicator. He’s able to -- to -- to drive a conversation in a narrative unlike many others. Use that to push his message. Use that to tell the people what he wants to do. He’s not doing that.
WALLACE: Well, on that rare moment of praise for Donald Trump from you, Mo, thank you. Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." You're going to love this. Washington prepares to lose one of its biggest stars.
WALLACE: For all of the news about President Trump, the hottest story in Washington right now may just be about the giant panda, Bao Bao, who’s about to be sent halfway around the world. And a lot of people in the nation's capital are sad to see her go. Here is our "Power Player of the Week."
WALLACE: Here she comes.
WALLACE (voice-over): We got some behind the scenes time with Bao Bao this week as the National Zoo made final preparations to send her to a new life in China. First stop, a scale.
BRANDIE SMITH, SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL ZOO: The way to any panda’s heart is a little bit of honey water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good girl.
SMITH: And that way she’ll stand still voluntarily and we can get a weight on her.
WALLACE: Brandie Smith, who’s a senior administrator at the zoo, took us through Bao Bao’s paces. With the aid of honey water and hand singles, she put her paw out for a blood test.
SMITH: That’s where the vein is in a panda’s arm. And you can see that staff are pressing that vein, so she’s used to it.
WALLACE: They also trained her to cooperate when she becomes pregnant in China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you lay down?
SMITH: And one keeper is always keeping her head busy, and then now Shelly’s (ph) training her for an ultrasound. So she’s getting her used to having her stomach touched.
WALLACE: That's why thousands of people are coming to the zoo, and millions more watching on panda cam, to say good-bye to Bao Bao. Since she was born, the arrangement has always been she would return to China before she turned four to reproduce. So these days have become a celebration of her life here. Her miracle birth, after her mom had failed to produce a cub for almost a decade, early training, playing in the snow, and other adventures, and exploring the world around her.
WALLACE (on camera): Awe. I guess that’s the only reaction you can have.
SMITH: She’s a little bit sleepy this morning.
WALLACE (voice-over): We go back a long way with her. Well, three years anyway, when baby Bao Bao was just six months old. She weighed 25 pounds then, not 200. And I was one of the first outsiders who got to feed her.
SMITH: You can see if she wants some.
WALLACE (on camera): She’s liking that a little bit.
SMITH: She looks very grown up when she does this.
WALLACE: I, for one, am very proud of her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't put your hands too close. So --
WALLACE: I got that. That’s not a problem.
WALLACE (voice-over): Feeding Bao Bao now is a different proposition.
WALLACE (on camera): Three years ago, Bao Bao, remember? Here we go. Here we go. You like that? Huh, huh, huh. Wow. Bao Bao, you’ve grown up.
SMITH: So you’ve just made the panda very happy.
WALLACE (voice-over): But Bao Bao's main task is to get use to the crate that will be her home for the 16 hour nonstop federal express flight this week to the panda center at Chengdu.
WALLACE (on camera): Why do you think her farewell is such a big deal?
SMITH: Sometimes people say that pandas receive too much attention, right? But this is what it takes to save an endangered speeches.
WALLACE: Bao Bao is part of that success story. The panda population has increased 17 percent over a decade. But for the folks who have taken care of her these last few years, her leaving is still emotional.
SMITH: Of course I am. She’s my girl. But it -- I think of it like a child going off to college, she’s going on to better things. She’s going on to have cubs of her own. And I’m so happy for her. It’s hard for me to be sad right now.
WALLACE: Bao Bao flies to China on Tuesday, and officials at the National Zoo are taking every step to make sure it goes smoothly, even a backup vehicle on the ride to the airport in case Bao Bao's break down. After all, says one zoo official, the world will be watching.
Now this program note. Please tune to Fox News Channel Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern when Martha MacCallum hosts a "First 100 Days" live town hall event. The focus on immigration.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
Content and Programming Copyright 2017 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.