This is a rush transcript from "The First 100 Days," February 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, more than eight years after leaving the White House, Former President George W. Bush weighs in with a rare televised interview, opening up about division, the media, and some of President Trump's most controversial policies. It is day 39 of "The First 100." I'm Sandra smith in for Martha MacCallum tonight. It's the interview at the center of speculation, Former President George W. Bush sitting down with NBC's Matt Lauer to offer candid observations about his own time in office and for the first time, reacting publicly to President Trump's executive order on immigration.
But there are new questions tonight about whether some in the media have been too quick to characterize Mr. Bush's comments come as a personal slight to the new presidency. Here are some of those comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TODAY"/NBC)
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST: Did you ever consider the media to be the enemy of the American people?
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I considered the media to be indispensable to democracy that we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it'd be here or elsewhere.
LAUER: By banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering this country, do we make it easier or harder to fight the war on terrorism?
BUSH: Well, I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we are in retreat. And I think we learned that lesson that, you know, if the United States decides to pull out before a free society emerges, it's going to be hard to defeat them.
LAUER: I just want to make sure I understand you, for or against the ban, you're against the ban?
BUSH: I am for an immigration policy that's welcoming and that upholds the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Joining us now, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News political editor, and Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush and Fox News political contributor. Karl Rove, you're obviously qualified to comment on what you just heard there. This is a man you know very well. Did you see this as a criticism of Donald Trump's presidency?
KARL ROVE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, I remember 2010 President Bush came out with his previous book. He went through similar interviews. And it was interesting to me that the media did not characterize any of his comments then as an attack on President Obama and they were of a similar nature. What I thought was most interesting in this set of comments was if there was one president whom he I think pointedly talked about, it was President Barack Obama when -- in his comment on, if we leave too soon, meaning, Iraq, I think, before freely functioning democratic societies are there, then, we've made a big mistake. And I think the most pointed comment he had today was not about President Trump. I think it was about President Obama.
SMITH: Well, when you saw some of the comments on headlines coming out of the media, immediately following that interview, Chris Stirewalt, you would have assumed, if you had not heard him speak yourself, you would have assumed that it was a harsh criticism of the current president. Was it criticism at all, Chris?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, when you -- when you think about the fact that Donald Trump once said, I assume still believes George W. Bush ought to have been impeached, probably not that harsh of criticism at all. Look, Former President Bush has gone to great pains to be kind, courteous, and all of that stuff, despite what Donald Trump said about him, despite what Donald Trump said about his family.
I'd say that he has gone out of his way to be gracious to Trump and give him -- give him a chance. So as his dad, so as his brother. I think they're giving at the old college try. He navigated these questions pretty well. He passed up, I mean, Lauer was putting it in front of him like constant red meat, come on, say something bad about Trump, say something bad about Trump. And he passed.
SMITH: And Karl, when you look at some of the pointing questions that he did receive, are you for the immigration or against? I think he might even said the Muslim ban, are you for or against it, his response, I'm for an immigration policy that's welcoming and upholds the law. What did you make of his answer?
ROVE: Well, who's surprised by that? Here is a president who has fought for conference of immigration reform. And it's also the president who after 30 years ended of the so-called catch-and-release policy, by spending billions of dollars to beef off the border patrol and create facilities so that rather than capturing what we call and OTM and other Mexican and releasing them on their own recognizance after giving them an immigration hearing date and then having none of them show up, very few of them show up.
President Bush was the guy who ended catch-and-release. President Obama reversed that policy. Now, President Trump is going to reinstitute the policy that President Bush successfully implemented by 2005. So, I -- look, you are right. I mean, Lauer came at him, came at him, came at him, said, I think Chris caught it, he's absolutely right, please say something ugly about President Trump. He didn't get it to happen. In fact, when -- at the beginning, remember how we let into the question on the press by talking at great length about the current circumstances and couldn't get a rise out of the former president.
SMITH: That's right. Even his response about the media and the treatment of Donald Trump, he made sure to speak specifically to the media when he was president and not what it is now. He talked about the big difference. So it was how he commented there. Chris, Karl, I want you both to stick around because there is a second issue we want to talk about here and it involves what will likely be the most important speech of Donald Trump's presidency today. First, let's get an update from chief White House correspondent, John Roberts. In the news that president made today on military spending. John?
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is one going to be one of the big pieces of his speech tomorrow night to a joint session of congress. Good evening to you, Sandra. The president announcing this morning before the National Governors Association that it's his intention to ask congress for an additional $54 billion in funding for the Department of Defense. That would put the total budget for the DOD at 603 million and leave to the rest of what's called the discretionary budget, this is for spending outside of Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid. About $462 billion which really means that he's got to sharpen his knives at the OMB and find some pretty dramatic cuts, about 12 percent across the board.
But the president during the campaign made no secret of his concern about the depleted state of the military. You might remember Jennifer Griffin series on how the U.S. Air Force was having to cannibalize aircraft to keep some of the other ones flying. President Trump often lamented the shrinking size of the Navy. He plans on as president following the Reagan doctrine of peace through strength. He wants a military that no other nation in the world would dare challenge. Listen to what he said this morning at the National Governors Meeting.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When I was young and high school, and college, everybody used to say, we never lost a war. We never lost a war. You remember. And now, we never win a war. We never win and we don't fight to win. We don't fight to win. So isn't that a win or don't fight it at all?
ROBERTS: Now this is just a very, very beginning of the budgetary process. These are called the topline numbers, we don't have any of the details on how the spending would break out, Sandra. We want to learn that probably until May when the budget is actually released but the president pledged today that he is not going to touch Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, at least not yet. Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Thank you very much, John Roberts. Back again, Chris Stirewalt on Karl Rove. $54 billion increase. Your -- are you a fan of this? Does this work for you? Karl.
STIREWALT: I support the increase in military spending but I think John puts his point on it at the end which is you cannot, over the long haul, deal with our deficits unless you deal with entitlement programs. One quick example, Medicare, average couple over the course of their lifetime will take -- put in $122,000 in Medicare taxes, take out $387,000 in benefits and passed $265,000 onto their kids and grandkids in the form of higher deficits.
So President Trump is right to increase the military but he is going to have a challenge at keeping the debt and check if he doesn't deal with entitlements over the course of his term.
SMITH: Chris, this would appear to be a dream budget for republicans. So why are some having a problem with it?
STIREWALT: Well, other than what Karl points out, the republicans deal -- by enlarge want to deal with entitlement reforms now rather than when it really takes a bite out of your back side 10 years, 15, 20 years from now. But the other problem here, the challenge here is Trump ran for office and what Americans like about him is they believe that he can bring economic renewal, economic revitalization to the country. Shifting to the military, this is not a growth budget.
This is a national security budget that he's talking about. Remember, when he was running for office, he said, let's quit spending this money overseas, let's quit spending this money fighting these wars and other countries, let's do nation building here at home. He is talked about a trillion dollar stimulus that he wants to do one infrastructural improvement in the United States and he wants tax cuts and jobs programs and all the stuff. So on Tuesday, when we are listening to the speech, if he's talking about that, if he's talking about cuts and shifting budget priorities, that won't be as popular as if he's talking about what people like from him which is go, go, go, go.
SMITH: Karl, what was announced today, will this be seen as following through on Donald Trump's campaign promises? I want to pull up this Fox News poll that recently found 58 percent think the military is stretched too thin and a 45 percent plurality feels it is underfunded. Will this take care of their concerns?
ROVE: Well, it will. And Chris is right. We have, you know, there is sort of a schizophrenic approach. There's a part of this base that said we want to bring America home and pay attention to things here at home. And another part of his base it said, we want America respected and strong and we want to beat ISIS, we want to ISIS, we want America to be the leader on the international stage. There is an ongoing tension between those two elements of this support. Those that same tension is filled -- felt within the American electorate at large and how it plays out over the years ahead is going to be very interesting thing to watch.
SMITH: All right. Chris Stirewalt agrees with you. Karl Rove, Chris Stirewalt, thanks to both of you joining us tonight.
And remember, coverage of those remarks from the president tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. with Special Report live from the heart of Washington. And "First 100 Days" to follow from the very same location. Martha MacCallum will be in the capital with key members of congress and a couple special guests from the Trump administration. And then, "O'Reilly Factor" at 8:00 p.m., before we carry the entire speech live with expert insight and analysis, hosted by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier.
It will be a big night, big names on the most-watched, most trusted name in news. But first, we are going to show you what the White House is doing to catch the leakers and why the press secretary is morning what happens next is going to get dramatic. We've got Judge Andrew Napolitano on that, plus, the White House taking heat today about the Navy SEAL killed in a terror raid last month. Why that father is refusing to meet with the president. The story behind that story, just ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The father of Ryan Owens once called that a stupid mission. Is there something that you'd like to communicate to him about that mission that might persuade him otherwise?
SMITH: We have new developments tonight and a series of leaks coming out of the Trump White House and what exactly is being done to stop them. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is coming down hard on the unnamed staffers turning to the press to talk. Calling a private meeting with staff to lay down the law and warning what comes next will "make that look like recess." Judge Andrew Napolitano is here on the legal risks for those staffers. But first, we go to Chief National Correspondent Ed Henry live in Washington on how Press Secretary Spicer is cracking down on these leaks. What exactly is he doing? Ed?
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sandra, good to see you. Eyebrows raised because the move by Sean Spicer added to the perception at least that staffers inside the White House were looking over their shoulders and do not fully trust each other about whether people are leaking unflattering stories about one another. This phone check happened last Tuesday when the press secretary called in almost a dozen staffers who had attended a previous meeting in which some negative sparring among the staff had leaked out.
Spicer asked his colleagues to put whatever phones they had with them on the table and part to check and see if a specific phone numbers belonging to reporters had been called, warning if they didn't comply to round one of this, it would be recess compared to what would be coming down the road. Now, Spicer was not pressed much on this all at all today at his daily press briefing and when NBC's Kristen Welker try to get to it, the Press Secretary was able to swat it away. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: One more. Is there an internal leak going on right now?
SEAN SPICER, WHTE HOUSE PRESS SECRETAYR: No. Not that I'm aware of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: In Spicer's defense, sources familiar with the search say that the White House counsel's office was on board because the press secretary was trying to confirm reports that some aides were using apps like Confide and Signal which erase text messages after they have been read. Spicer made clear apps like that are a problem for official business because they run afoul of the federal records act, which requires all written communications to and from White House officials be properly archived.
So the apps had to be deleted from official work phones, we're told Spicer asked permission to see personal phones, as well. He did not demand that. And none of the staffers refused to turn them over. They were willing to have him check it out, though, he can't be happy. But details of the meeting searching for the leaks has now leaked out, Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Very good reporting, Ed Henry. Good to see you.
HENRY: Thank you.
SMITH: And thank you. Joining me now, Fox News Senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. What did you -- you look like you just learn to something from Ed's report.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I did. I almost always learn things from Ed but no exception now. We didn't know until Ed's report just now that Sean Spicer asked for permission to look at the phones. So here is the rule. If your boss asks for a phone that your company owns, you have to surrender. They can look at what's on there but unless your boss is the government, because then, your boss the government is restrained by the fourth amendment. So you work in the White House, you have more protection for your phone then if you work in private industry, unless you agree to give up.
SMITH: But he is saying that the staffers agreed to let them look at their phones.
NAPOLITANO: Correct. Now there may have been a little coercion. They're like, if you don't agree you're going to be -- you're going to be -- you're going to be fired. But they did get an agreement to look at the phones. That's on the phone numbers. On the app, on the means by which you can communicate and destroy the records, that would be a violation of the presidential records act. They have the right to remove that act to make certain that they are remains somewhere in the cloud a permanent record of all emails that government people use.
SMITH: And Sean Spicer's warning that there is more to come, that this going to look like recess. So how far can they go?
NAPOLITANO: Well, if they want to get into a person's phone against their will, they have to get a search warrant to do that. In order to get a search warrant, they have to show probable cause of criminal activity. Now, it may be wrong and it may be a pain in the neck and it may be frustrating to President Trump that people inside the White House are revealing conversations inside the White House, that's not a crime.
The other leaks, the leaks by the intelligence community, the leaks about the President's personal behavior which he vehemently denied, the leaks of the words that General Flynn used in the conversation with the Russian ambassador, the leak of the Department of Homeland Security report which allegedly undermines the president's choice of the seven countries to suspend the right of immigration from, those leaks are criminal leaks and those leaks are probably the subject of investigations by the FBI.
SMITH: OK. All good stuff. Judge Andrew Napolitano, always good to see you, sir.
NAPOLITANO: Good to see you right here.
SMITH: Thank you for that. All right. Joining me now is Marie Harf, former CIA and state department's spokesperson under President Obama. And Charles Hurt, Washington times political columnist, both are Fox News contributors. Marie, my guess is you have -- you're taking issue with the way the White House is going about this.
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I am. And I actually agree with a lot of what Judge Napolitano just said. We have to distinguish between leaks of classified information, which the FBI looks into and I know is looking into and leaks of conversations between staffers at the White House. And for me, the biggest problem is, if you can't be sure that your staff is loyal, without going through their phone, then, you have a bigger problem.
You know, The Trump White House can't blame these leaks on the media, they can't blame them on the Obama administration holdovers are career officials like he's tried to do with the FBI or with the CIA. These are people that are working in the Trump White House as part of his team. And if Sean Spicer has to resort to this tactic of going through phones or threatening, saying this is going to look like recess, I think he has a much bigger problem on his hands and a few press stories.
SMITH: But Charlie, the White -- this is a White House -- this is the president who promised to be the most transparent in history. This does not follow up on that promise?
CHARLIE HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I was going to say, by hook or by crook, apparently this is going to be the transparent administration in history. And Sean Spicer apparently doesn't like it. But I think that, Marie it makes a very good point about that. About the fact that -- about the fact that, you know, he was trying to send a message clearly, that message though did not get received because, of course, all of this was immediately leaked.
But I also think it's a little bit of a tempest to speak up because, you know, what we're talking about is -- we're talk -- and Marie is right that obviously what's coming out of the White House are not Obama holdovers, we don't think, but the leaks generally and the repulsion generally towards this president by the bureaucracy, you know, is pretty significant. And I think it reflects the fact that you have a president who has made promises and apparently intends to keep these promises to really shake this place up.
And that drives people crazy. And that's why we're seeing a lot of the leaks that we are seeing. And I think that by and large, the American people on both sides of the political spectrum, they kind of like the idea of that. They would like us to this place is shaken up.
SMITH: Well, there is that and then there is those who say that this could shake up the loyalty factor that one would expect inside the White House. And Marie, earlier on Fox today, you talked about your former boss, Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA saying that the best way to stop leaks is to engender loyalty. I would imagine that this is probably not the way about going that -- doing that.
HARF: Exactly. And my point in quoting my former boss is that loyalty is earned. It is respect. You don't get loyalty by asking someone or coercing someone to turn over their phone. It makes it feel like -- you feel like as an employee that you're not trusted, like you're e being accused of something. And so, I think that, you know, Sean Spicer has a team now and he's trying to get this communication team up and running. They've had some rough moments in the past, you know, five or six weeks since they have been in office.
The way to stop internal leaks where only a small number of people are in a meeting, isn't to threaten people. It's to bring them in, it's to say, you're part of a team, we have to have each other's back, we have to trust each other. If I find out you are leaking, I'll take care of it. But really, create a better system.
SMITH: -- because the president has promised he's going to find these leakers. He said the FBI is not going to be able to do it. He's got to do something. Last word to you, Charlie.
HURT: That's why I think that he does need to do something about the leaks. But most of all, he needs to continue to focus on the issues that got him elected. And if he continues on those things and actually makes progress on those things all the stuff will just sort of fall by the wayside.
SMITH: All right. Marie and Charlie, thanks for being here.
HURT: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: Still ahead, President Trump met with our nation's governors and said he wants to give more power back to the states. Florida Governor Rick Scott was in that meeting and he'll tell us what this means for Americans across the country. Plus, the father of a slain Navy SEAL is demanding answers from the Trump administration about the terror raid that led to his son's death. Carl Higbee and Bob Jackson are both standing by on that.
SMITH: Breaking tonight, the father of a Navy SEAL, William Ryan Owens, the U.S. Servicemen killed during a controversial terror raid in Yemen is demanding answers from President Trump and his first interview since the death of his son, Bill Owens, telling the Miami Herald he refused to meet President Trump when his son's body was returned to Dover Air Force Base. And now, he wants an investigation into the raid. Here now with details on that mission, Trace Gallagher live from our L.A. Newsroom. Trace?
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL LOS ANGELES-BASED CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Sandra. It's clear the mission didn't go exactly as planned. The Navy SEALs had reportedly lost the element of surprise and what was supposed to be a so-called lightning raid to grab cell phones, laptops, and other terrorist information turned into a fire fight lasting nearly an hour. 36- year-old Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed along with a number of humane civilians. Despite the tragedy, the Pentagon tells Fox News the mission yielded vital information and that it gathered intelligence the equivalent of the (INAUDIBLE) raid in Osama Bin Laden's compound.
The White House went on to say those who criticized the raid dishonor Ryan Owens' memory. But Owen's father Bill strongly disagrees and says the Trump administration should stop hiding behind his son's death and conduct a full and investigation. And we now know that when President Trump and Ivanka went to Dover Air Force Base for the transfer of remains to meet the Owens family, Bill Owens says he couldn't bring himself to meet with Trump, even questioning the mission itself, saying, "Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission, when it wasn't even barely a week into his administration, why, for two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen, everything was missiles and drones because there was not a target worth one American life." But today, the White House reiterated that the mission was planned under the Obama administration. Watch.
SPICER: Their recommendation at the time was to wait for a moonless night. That night wasn't going to occur during President Obama's administration.
GALLAGHER: Fox News has also confirmed the raid was planned under president Obama and ordered by President Trump. Though, a National Security Advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden is putting some distance between the two administrations, tweeting, "Obama made no decisions on this before leaving office." Believing it represented escalation of U.S. involvement in Yemen. The Pentagon tells Fox that no senior military leaders have called this a hasty operation and that multiple investigations are underway. Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Trace Gallagher, thank you. Joining me now is Carl Higbie, former Navy SEAL and author of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" and Bud Jackson, a Democratic Strategist and Chairman of the American working in families act. What you make of this father, Carl, and demanding an investigation over his son's death in this race?
CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well I would say, first off, my heart goes out to the family. This is a very tough situation. The father rightfully is upset. He lost his son. I can understand that, but he needs to understand first and foremost of the security of the Seal teams in the mission status is something that is paramount and unfortunate, I say this with all due respect, he will not get the intimate details of this operation, because it is just not what they signed up for. I know as a Seal, I was in places where I couldn't tell my family where I was. If the Pentagon team so there needs to be in operation then by all means they will. I say to him respectfully, do not count -- please do not count on getting the details of this operation, because it could jeopardize national security and tactics.
SMITH: Bob, no one can possibly get in the mind of this father who just lost his son and the emotion that he could possibly be feeling. Then, to make decisions like this, how can any of us criticize or question them?
BUD JACKSON, CHAIRMAN: AMERICAN WORKING FAMILIES PAC: We can't, nor, should we. I think he has a right to get some answers. I'd understand that there will be some investigations that happen as a matter of course because of this. What every American should be concerned about, regardless of whether or not they are a Democrat or a Republican, this president's first, his first decision to send our troops into harm's way, done at almost a cavalier --
SMITH: Hold on, but - let's go through the timelines to make sure that everybody is well aware, as Carl will lay out for us, as well, that this raid was planned under the Obama administration, I have a very clear timeline coming from central command. They submitted a plan on November 7th. The day before the election even happened. They submitted the plan, the Department of Defense approved the plans December 19th, still under President Obama, now, Secretary Mattis, four days after the inauguration, reviewed the Yemen operation planning again, that had been conducted by the Obama administration, January 25th, Trump was briefed. President Trump signed off. January 26, the mission was carried out January 29th. It was executed under Donald Trump's presidency. It was planned under President Obama.
JACKSON: President Trump is the one who signed the order to do this. So, regardless of what came before him, that is virtually meaningless. Let's talk about Donald Trump and how important he felt this was. Instead of going down to the situation room, as American servicemen were fighting for their lives, he was sitting at the residence --
SMITH: Let's get back to Carl, because I think the timeline is very important. Carl.
HIGBIE: The timeline is very important, Bud, that is extremely disrespectful. I can say, it is -- you know what it is, Bud, you are used to political rhetoric to characterize some think of Donald Trump on his first operation. What about all the troops that died then the President Obama? I would caution you --
JACKSON: President Obama was in the situation room when he called for military action.
SMITH: I want to bring in some comments by the military officials. Bud, there are people that are much more qualified than you to comment on this. The head of U.S. Special operations at reports of hasty planning at this rate are "absolutely incorrect." He said discussions of the raid lacked the context of frequency of such U.S. operations around the world. In a story stated February 11th at The New York Times, William Wechsler, former top counterterrorism officials said you cannot mitigate risk admissions like this, but you can mitigate risk admissions like this, but you can't mitigate risk down to zero. These are just some of the things that are being said in response to so many negative headlines about this raid.
JACKSON: A lot of things went wrong. In fact, one senior U.S. military person said, everything went wrong. Yet, the White House wants to say that it is a huge success and we don't have all of the information. In fact, Sean Spicer wants you to not criticize it, because he is using Captain Owens as a political shield. We need to criticize them. We need to get to the bottom of what happened. I'm not ready to say --
SMITH: Carl, is an investigation going to take place? What you expect will come out of that?
HIGBIE: If an investigation needs to take place, it will, but the fact is, we cannot allow certain details of certain operations to get out there. Bud, for you to go on here -- the issue at hand --
SMITH: We have to wrap it up. Obviously a difficult subject for many out there, a lot of people can decide on their own. We continue to grieve with that father over the loss of his son fighting for all of us and our freedom in this country. We thank him for that. Thanks to both of you.
HIGBIE: Thank you.
JACKSON: Thank you.
SMITH: All right breaking tonight, Reuters news service is reporting that the U.S. Senate just confirmed the latest member of the Trump Cabinet. Wilbur Ross secured 72 votes to be the next Secretary of Commerce, the number of Democrats obviously throwing their support behind Ross. In recent days, critics try to raise questions about whether Ross had some sort of ties to Russia. That concern apparently didn't stick. As of tonight, President Trump has yet to mark 40 days in office. Why are some top Democrats already talking about impeachment? All right, we will have more of this. Katrina Pierson and Jessica Tarlov will be sure to debate this straight ahead. Plus, President Trump spoke out a short while ago about what was supposed to be a friendly get together for the president and the press. Now, has turned into the latest battle in a full on war. Howie Kurtz is here on what this is about, still ahead.
SMITH: New reaction tonight to what some Democrats they are serious calls to impeach President Trump. With just over five weeks since inauguration day, are Democrats really considering putting the president on trial? Is this just a tactic to oppose president Trump's agenda? Doug McKelway is live with the answers in Washington, hey, Doug.
DOUG MCKELWAY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Sandra, among Democrats, there was even a talk of impeaching President Trump even before he had taken the oath of office. To Republicans, that is just more evidence that Democrats were irrationally lashing out after their stinging defeat in November and their loss in power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you this question. Do the Democrats understand they need to control the House of Representatives to impeach somebody? You know -
The Democrats right now are living in an alternative universe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKELWAY: But Democrats are backing on Trump's popularity, taking a nosedive, hoping that those rustbelt supporters who put them in office could turn on him if he doesn't deliver.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEM HOUSE COUNSEL CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: The president's support on Capitol Hill right now is a mile wide and an inch deep. If the president's approval numbers, which are on the low 40s right now, if they were to dip into the mid-30s or the low 30s or the high 20s, then, you could foresee a situation where Republicans would begin to think that Mike Pence is a much better alternative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKELWAY: Democrats at least took on potential articles of impeachment. First, Trump decision not to fully divest from his business empire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON, DEPUTY DNC CHAIR: On day one -- he was in violation of the emoluments clause. This is part of the constitution that says as a president, you can't get payments from a foreign power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKELWAY: The second is Trump's alleged Russian connection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAXINE WATERS, D-CASH: This president absolutely was in collusion with the Kremlin and Putin and Russia during the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKELWAY: But with no power in Washington, the Democrats may be following a strategy to simply obstruct at every possible turn and impeachment is just one strand of spaghetti that they hope it sticks to the wall.
SMITH: Wow, Doug McKelway so much to get into there, thank you very much. Joining us now, Katrina Pierson, she is the spokesman for America first policy and she served as a senior advisor to the Trump presidential transition team. And Jessica Tarlov is a senior director of research at bussell.com and a Democratic pollster. Jessica, I will start with you first.
JESSICA TARLOV, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: We are five weeks in. While you have been very critical of Donald Trump, the election, his campaign, through the first five weeks, I have still heard you, are you ready to talk impeachment?
TARLOV: No, definitely not. I hate to say that Ted Cruz was right about anything. That awesome, pregnant pause there about do Democrats know that you need to control the House of Representatives was spot on. I think that it is important to keep investigating his ties to Russia. We heard over the weekend, Darrell Issa say there should be a special prosecutor. I know he was saying that he has acted on a little bit today and said it is possible, but I think he is correct there in saying that especially when you look at how they went after Hillary Clinton. I think the intelligence community has made it clear that we need thorough investigation.
SMITH: A special prosecutor, Jeff Sessions, is incapable of being fair?
TARLOV: No, he was part of the Trump campaign. I think it is very clear that it is not possible for Jeff Sessions to be impartial unfair about this.
SMITH: Ok. Katrina, I want to get you in here, because some may say it is a little too early to be talking about impeachment of the president who has been in office five weeks.
KATRINA PEARSON, FORMER NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Absolutely. What else are they going to say? This is definitely a party that isn't disarray. They don't want to focus on their election, considering how the Bernie Sanders people, the Elizabeth Warren people were all very much disappointed and railroaded by establishment money. So what do you do? You attacked Donald Trump with more fake news about Russia, you talk about impeachment, thinking that it is going to rile up their base, even though it is entirely impossible.
SMITH: Katrina, are you saying that the intelligence committee is titling fake news?
PEARSON: No, I'm saying the Democrats and liberal media are peddling fake news.
SMITH: Let's -- Let's get back to the broader discussion here. That is Democrats, Jessica. They appear to be having a hard time with the outcome of this election. You seem to agree with Ted Cruz a few moments ago. Did you agree the Democrats are living in an alternative universe?
TARLOV: That was a little bit stretch, I am right here on planet earth. I know what happened. Democrats are aware of it. I won't deny the fact that the resistance is strong within the Party and that there are many, especially the base that were in opposition to Trump with any turn. We can win in 2018 and 2020 on the issues.
PEARSON: There is a Democrat in California, Adam Shift who is a ranking member of the intelligence community, who said, this is McCarthyism. The intelligence community is not on par with what you are saying, Jessica.
SMITH: All right. Wow. I could just let you guys hashed out when out. We've got a lot of guests. Thanks to both of you.
TARLOV: Thank you.
PEARSON: Thank you.
SMITH: Coming up next, President Trump made a promised to our nation's governors to restore some state rights. Governor Rick Scott is there when the promise was made and he joins us next to tell you what that means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are also going to do whatever we can to restore the authority of the states with that is the appropriate thing to do. We are going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states and great people and great governors. You can control it better than the federal government because you are right on top of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: All right that was President Trump today as he met with our nation's governors and promised to give power back to the states. What does exactly does that mean? Here now, Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has held a series of meetings with President Trump in recent days. The president says he is pushing power back to the states. Governor what does that mean for us?
GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.: First, Sandra, I had a wonderful Saturday. I got that group and public housing got to have lunch at the White House with the president, meet with him on health care reform, and then, go to dinner at Trump tower with him on Health care reform and dinner at Trump hotel today on Saturday. That was fun. Here's what it means. Step one it means that we are going to stop getting these ridiculous regulations without anyone talking to us. He is appointed individuals as cabinet members that are talking to us. I met with Betsy DeVos, Elaine Chao, today and they were asking my opinion. That is step one. Step two, the president understands, I work with my mayors, and he understands that local government works better. He is going to give the power back.
SMITH: You have been saying that for a long time, governor. You have been asking for this. You say governors are more efficient, effective, and more accountable. You have been asking for this, begging for this, you are getting it. Are you confident you will get something done?
SCOTT: Absolutely. I have been meeting with Tom Price with regards to health care reform. I said, I know and governors know for their states, what the needs are for their citizens for health care. If you give us the authority, we will focus on how we make sure our citizens get health care. I grew up with my family didn't have health care. They care about that for the families in my state.
SMITH: That is your interpretation, governor. I'm wondering after meeting with all this governors, as did the president, different governors of different states with different people, are going to interpret this differently. Let me repeat the president's words. We are going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from the states. Give me some examples of what that means.
SCOTT: I think what it means, he is going to listen to us, he will stop regulating us, stop telling us how to do our jobs, also, he will give us the authority to bring got dollars back to our stated make and spend the dollars better than the federal government. I can be way more efficient with health care dollars and other dollars than the federal government can.
SMITH: Do you have any concerns about the way other governors are going to interpret this?
SCOTT: I think everybody will take advantage of it for the benefit of their citizens. We are 50 laboratories. If another state figures out how to do something, workforce training, health care better than I can, I will look at what they do. I want 50 laboratories. It is a better way to use the tax dollars. Sandra, I'm excited.
SMITH: You sound like it. It is good to hear you excited. How will this affect your state specifically, governor?
SCOTT: The most important thing for me, I want to make sure that we get that money for Medicaid so I can spend the dollars better and make sure our citizens actually get health care.
SMITH: We will be watching for that. Thank you so much, governor. Good to see you. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A lot of the stories are made up. I believe a lot of the stories are pure fiction. They pull them out of there, now with all of that being said, I think it would be better if I didn't go to the dinner. I just thought it would be better if I didn't do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: That was President Trump explaining why he is not attending the White House correspondents dinner and an exclusive interview airing tomorrow morning on "Fox & Friends." Mr. Trump first announced his plan to skip the annual gala via twitter, this weekend. Joining me now is "MediaBuzz" host Howie Kurtz. Does any of this surprise you?
HOWARD KURTZ, "MEDIABUZZ" HOST: Why would anybody you'd be surprised that Donald Trump got us both want to spend hours trapped to the basement of the Washington Hilton hanging out with a bunch of people he doesn't like or trust based on those comments? Listening to comedian skewer him, then, required to say something nice about the free press. He would rather go Mar-a-Lago.
SMITH: Is it a missed opportunity, because it is a moment were the president sort of - sort of self-deprecating humor when they step up there. It is a kind a warm and fuzzy moment or it has been historically. Do you see it as a missed opportunity for this president?
KURTZ: It is in some ways. The president could have gone there, done a bunch of killer jokes, taking aim at the media, made fun at himself a little bit which would have been nice to see. The tensions in this war between the media and this president have escalated so far especially after the CPAC speech and the American people and all of that I didn't see any chance of that happening. It is really going to hurt the dinner, which I know it's not a big deals are people out there. It is become as big, often criticized, celebrity studded affair.
SMITH: Well to be clear, it was already happening right? The after parties have been canceled.
KURTZ: Here is the irony. Those big magazines canceled the parties because they don't like Donald Trump. Now, he is not coming, they will not come, I hear journalist saying, we want to go, there is no presidential star. This diminishes it. It is unfair because it is to raise money for scholarships. It is almost feeling like it is past its prime.
SMITH: All right. You think he might even stage it, some sort of counter event that night?
KURTZ: I wouldn't be surprised if he found something to do. It was newsworthy that may be just a little screen time from the white house correspondents dinner, Sandra.
SMITH: All right Howie Kurtz, good to see you.
KURTZ: Same here.
SMITH: Do not forget, our coverage of President Trump's on Capitol Hill starts tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. with "Special Report" live from the heart of Washington and "The First 100 Days" to follow from the same location. Martha MacCallum will be in the capital with key members of Congress and a couple a special guess from a Trump administration. And then, "O'Reilly Factor" at 8:00 p.m. before we carry the entire speech live with expert insights and analysis, hosted by Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier.
Big night on the most-watched, most trusted name in news, we will see you then. Good night, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I am Sandra Smith. Make sure you tune in. It will be a big address from the president tomorrow night. Everything you need to see and hear will be right here on Fox News Channel. Thanks for joining us.
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