SPECIAL REPORT

Should people be concerned about a militarization of NSC?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," February 20, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: General H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser. He also has known for a long time General Keith Kellogg. Keith is going to be chief of staff and I think that combination is something very, very special.

GEN. HERBERT RAYMOND MCMASTER: I look forward to joining the national security team in doing everything I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people.

GEN. KEITH KELLOGG: I am very honored and privileged to serve alongside H.R. McMaster I've known for years as well. He's a great statesman and a great soldier. Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. What a team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: And there you have it, the commander-in-chief a short while ago announcing his new national security advisor and the new chief of staff at the National Security Council.

Let's bring you up to speed on who H.R. McMaster is. He is now the director of Army Capabilities, the Army Capabilities Integration Center, I should say, at Fort Eustis in Virginia. He led a major counterinsurgency effort at Tal Afar in Iraq as a commander in 2005. He was one of the architects of the surge policy in Iraq that is credited with turning around that conflict. And he is the first active-duty military officer to serve as national security advisor since Colin Powell back in the Reagan administration. One final note about General McMaster, he's also the author of a very important book, "Dereliction of Duty, Johnson, McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam," a detailed archival study relying on new documents and tapes published that was in the late '90s documenting how the Lyndon Johnson and his inner circle deceived and circumvented the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the policymaking sessions that deepened American involvement in Vietnam.

Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times; Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Julie, you've covered a lot of White Houses. Now we have a military man at the top of the NSC and a military man as the chief of staff over there. Should people be concerned about a, quote-unquote, "militarization" of the NSC?

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It's something that has come up not just at the NSC but also if you look at Trump's cabinet he's quite fond of generals. At the same time, it is rare in Washington to find bipartisan support for a president's pick, and you saw that today. With H.R. McMaster you saw Democrats and Republicans who are both supportive of Trump and those who are not supportive of him coming out and praising this pick. This is a widely respected person. The hope that a lot of people who are more skeptical of Trump, the hope that they have is that he will bring some order to the NSC and that he will be a strong voice who will be able to break into what has been quite an insular group of advisers around President Trump.

ROSEN: Charlie, if you are the State Department, let's say, and you are butting heads as they typically do with the Defense Department over some key policy issues or some initiative that's bring prepared, and it's going to be adjudicated by the national security advisor who is supposed to be the person that collates all these views and then goes to the president, should you feel comfortable that these two generals now are going to be running the national security council are going to give diplomats, let's say, a fair hearing in these tussles?

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I think that no matter who he picks for the spot the State Department is going to have kind of a tough slog at the White House in terms of getting diplomats to win some of those battles. I think clearly Donald Trump prefers, he does like the military guys without a doubt. And I think he likes the idea of having forceful people in those positions.

One of the things I think is most appealing about McMaster is the fact that the book that he wrote, "Dereliction of Duty," about the lies in Vietnam, there are a lot of similarities between the problems that we had in Vietnam wasn't a lack of firepower. It wasn't a lack of money. It was a lack of commitment, it was a lack of vision, it was a lack of strategy. I think you could say that's probably true today about our war against terror.

And I think that having a guy like that who believes, who has been able to pick apart those kinds of problems, General Mattis is a guy who believes very strongly in having a dynamic strategy for dealing with things, and I just think it all indicates -- there are a lot of good indicators that this administration is serious about trying to come up with a real strategy for combating terrorism.

ROSEN: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think what's encouraging about him is that the book that he wrote on Vietnam, and also he was the architect, one of the intellectual architects of the surge in Iraq. In both instances he's going against the prevailing assumptions and worldview. The surge we all now praise in retrospect. People were very skeptical of it even within the Bush administration, in the military. It was kind of revolutionary, and he was there. So it tells you here's a guy who will say what he thinks and promote what he wants.

The other interesting element of the announcement was that the president went out of his way to praise John Bolton and to say that even though he was one of the four candidates, he didn't get the job, he said we want him in some other job in the White House. And it will be interesting to see what he gets.

ROSEN: The president said we will be talking to him.

Rush Limbaugh, his very popular radio show, had something to say about the efforts to delegitimize the president by his opponents on the left brake

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: Julie?

PACE: Obviously a lot of people in the Trump circles see the media as the opposition. And I would just say this. The media is not here to take Trump down. That might come as a disappointment to some people on the left.

ROSEN: Some segments of the media sure are, no.

PACE: I think if you go to the briefing room on any day at the White House most of us are there to get facts. And the problem that we've had over the last several weeks is that, and even going back to the transition, we have had a hard time getting facts. If you look at this episode with General Flynn, this was an incident where we were getting incorrect facts. It turned out that people up to the vice president weren't getting incorrect facts, and that was his downfall, not some effort to demonize someone that Trump had picked to serve is his White House.

ROSEN: Let's play very quickly this extraordinary exchange between the White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and our colleague Chris Wallace from FOX News Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: So you get about 10 percent coverage on the fact you had a very successful meeting with Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of the U.K., the prime minister of Canada.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: We covered all of those news conferences live. Everybody did.

PRIEBUS: Right, sure, 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 any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I've got to say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: This correspondent might take a different view of all of that, but Charles, is it apt to compare the treatment of the news media by the Trump administration with the treatment of the news media by the Obama administration?

HURT: I think it's absolutely worth noting. And of course Julie is exactly right. There are a lot of very dedicated journalists who go into the White House every day and have every intention of looking for facts. But they may not -- the majority of reporters may not be out there to take down Donald Trump, but there is an alarming percentage of reporters out there who also don't want to cover him fairly and don't want to give him the benefit of the doubt even in cases where he deserves it, whereas the same people covering Barack Obama gave him the benefit of the doubt at every turn.

And I think that that's what -- when Donald Trump talks about the fake news media and all this kind of stuff, he gets away with sort of smearing everyone with a broad brush, but there are enough bad actors out there to give him cover to make those claims.

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