This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 5, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
President Trump accuses former President Obama of tapping his phones on the run-up to the election, as attempts to push his first year agenda keep getting sidetracked by allegations about Russia.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: My staff recommended recusal. Let me be clear, I never had any meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.
WALLACE: A growing chorus of Democrats demands Attorney General Sessions step down.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: For the good of the country, Attorney General Sessions should resign.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The fact that the attorney general as top cop in our country lied under oath to the American people is ground for him to resign.
WALLACE: But the president calls it a witch hunt.
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you still have confidence in the attorney general?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Total.
WALLACE: We’ll discuss what’s next with Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas who says Democrats are distorting the facts, and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, who wants Sessions to testify before Congress and set the record straight.
TRUMP: Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved.
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel whether this will get in the way of passing the Trump agenda.
And our power player of the week -- a political outsider and former Navy SEAL takes charge in Missouri.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to have leaders who were willing to go to the frontlines. And that's what too many politicians have just failed to do.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
President Trump has dramatically escalated the battle over his alleged collusion with the Russians, accusing President Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower during the campaign.
In a tweet, President Trump wrote, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad or sick guy!"
Not surprisingly, this has unleashed a storm of reaction here in Washington about President Trump’s charge and the broader investigation. In a few minutes, we’ll talk with Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And Chris Coons who’s on both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees.
But, first, let's get the latest from chief Washington correspondent James Rosen.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: White House aides identified a Mark Levin radio segment on Thursday evening as the source for the president’s startling allegation that he was wiretapped by President Obama.
MARK LEVIN, "THE MARK LEVIN SHOW": In the summer, they were surveilling and eavesdropping on potentially Donald Trump, clearly his senior transition folks and campaign folks.
ROSEN: On Friday, an article on the website Breitbart, formerly run by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, elaborated on Levin’s claims, alleging the Obama administration asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in June for permission to, quote, "monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers", but was rebuffed. By October, the administration was reportedly back before the FISA court looking to monitor a Trump Tower computer server and received approval.
Later Friday, Fox News’ Bret Baier asked the House speaker about the reports.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: My point is, is that the Obama administration was pretty aggressive, a couple of FISA requests --
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, I hear your point. I’m saying, but I’ve seen nothing of that. I’ve seen nothing come of that. That’s my point.
ROSEN: At 6:35 Saturday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted, "Terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"
"Is it legal?" Mr. Trump asked 14 minutes later, "for a sitting president to be wiretapping a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A new low."
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is true, that would be the biggest scandal since Watergate.
ROSEN: "Neither President Obama nor any Obama White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen," said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president.
But John Favreau, a former Obama speechwriter, warned, "I’d be careful about reporting that Obama said there was no wiretapping. Statement just said that neither he nor the White House ordered it."
ROSEN: And just a few moments ago, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, engaged in a Twitter storm of his own, posting four consecutive messages. The general thrust was that the Trump White House now wants those congressional committees that are investigating Russia connections or allegations of Russian connections to be investigating this allegation as well. And Mr. Spicer closed with this, and I quote, "Neither the White House nor the president will comment further until such oversight is conducted" -- Chris.
WALLACE: James, thank you.
Joining me now, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARKANSAS: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: You are a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the one that the White House is now calling on to investigate whether or not the Obama administration abused its executive role. Are you going to do that?
COTTON: Chris, we've already begun an inquiry on the Intelligence Committee into Russia’s efforts to undermine confidence in our political system last year and in our interest all around the world. That inquiry is going to be thorough, and we’re going to follow the facts wherever they lead us. And I’m sure that this matter will be a part of that inquiry.
WALLACE: This matter, this allegation that --
COTTON: Any -- as part of our inquiry, we are going to review allegations of any kind of improper contacts between Russian officials and campaign officials or other American citizens. And I’m sure that we’ll be reviewing any allegations such as this.
WALLACE: Let me ask you specifically, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have you seen any evidence up until now that the Obama administration wiretapped Donald Trump or anyone else in Trump Tower during the campaign?
COTTON: I’ve seen no evidence of the allegations we've seen in the media, Chris. Whether that's a potential FISA court application or denial of that application, or a resubmission of an application or surveillance for that matter. That doesn't mean that none of these things happened. It simply means I haven't seen that yet -- as Speaker Ryan said in the lead-in to our conversation here.
But I would not want to speculate about media reports based on anonymous sources. I would prefer to deal with facts.
WALLACE: I want to -- let me ask you to deal in facts and follow-up on something that you mentioned in passing, because the government would need a court order to engage in this kind of wiretapping and they would need to show probable cause, either that a crime had been admitted, or that somebody was acting as a foreign agent.
Do you know whether or not there has been such a court order? And if not, are you going to try and find out?
COTTON: I don’t know, Chris.
WALLACE: Are you going to try to find out?
COTTON: I think all these matters will be part of our inquiry.
WALLACE: I know you're being careful, and I know I’m putting you in a tough spot. But I do have to ask you, because this is something that is on the minds of Americans and they're trying to understand what is going on in this country, and yes, you have a role as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you also have a role as a senator and as leader in this country and people are pretty confused right now.
When you see this tweet that we saw this weekend from President Trump that former President Obama tapped his phones, he compares it to Watergate and calls Mr. Obama a bad or sick guy -- I’m not asking you as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m asking you as a U.S. senator and a U.S. leader -- what’s your reaction?
COTTON: Well, I try not to parse and review every one of President Obama’s -- President Trump's tweets, Chris. I prefer to focus on things like his speech to Congress the other night where he laid out an hour long speech, a very careful plan of action. I think that’s a better guide to what he's thinking, and where he wants to take the country, just like his appointments to his cabinet and the policies he's pursuing.
WALLACE: But you have folks back in Arkansas in your state and there -- this is a pretty serious charge.
WALLACE: What would you say to them about an allegation by one president, that a former president wiretapped him during the campaign?
COTTON: Yes. Chris, I was actually in Heber Springs yesterday morning. We had a town hall with over 450 Arkansans. And for almost an hour and a half got a lot of questions. We only got one question about this.
Almost all the questions were about health care and the harms that ObamaCare caused or the immigration and failure to enforce our immigrant laws under President Obama's tenure, or rebuilding our military to face the challenges that we face, or -- to include from Russia. This kind of topic is not going to do much to bring these people comfort that we’re going to fix their health care system or immigration laws.
I think that town hall is a pretty good indication of where most Americans minds are right now.
WALLACE: You say you don't pay a lot of attention to Donald Trump’s tweets. Why not?
COTTON: I think what -- I mean, I think Twitter is an important medium that politicians can use to communicate, just like FDR started using radio addresses. Just like President Obama changed the radio address to a weekly YouTube address.
But ultimately, a better guide for an elected official’s actions are their prepared deliberate speech, like the president gave to Congress the other night, which was well-crafted and well-delivered, and especially the policies they pursued.
And for six weeks now, President Obama has appointed members to his cabinet.
WALLACE: You keep saying Obama.
COTTON: President Trump has appointed members to his cabinet and they've made deliberate statements that have been tougher on Russia than anything President Obama ever did.
If you want to know what a pro-Russia policy would look like, Chris, here’s some elements of it. You’d slash defense spending. You’d slow down our nuclear modernization. You’d roll back missile defense systems. You would enter a one-sided nuclear arms control agreement. And you’d try to do everything you could to stop oil and gas production.
That was Barack Obama's policy for eight years. That's not Donald Trump's policy. None of those things are good for Russia that Donald Trump’s proposed to do to roll back some of those Obama era policies.
WALLACE: I just want to -- and I’m sure some people are saying enough already, but I do want to follow up one more time. There is the possibility, as you say you will investigate it, that it's true.
There's also the possibility that it isn't true and that the president just blew off the handle. That would be pretty troubling, wouldn’t it, the idea that a president would make a charge this explosive about another president without any evidence?
COTTON: Well, all presidents are human, Chris. And if a lot of the allegations in the media are false, and I can tell you based on things I do know, there are many inaccurate reports circulated in the media over the last several months. It's understandable that Donald Trump would be frustrated at the leaks of inaccurate information, which also have the potential to reveal capabilities of the United States that we don't want our adversaries to know.
WALLACE: OK. We've talked enough about the tweets.
Let's step back and look at the big picture, because the Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating this whole issue for some period of time. And again, I’m only asking you what you know. Have you seen any evidence so far in this investigation, hard evidence of collusion between what I will call "Trump world" and Russia or Russian agents to interfere with the election?
COTTON: Chris, I’ve seen no evidence, and again, I would just say that media reports have gotten pretty far gone over their skis on this. Maybe the most explosive story came from The New York Times about four weeks ago, claiming that several known Trump associates were being investigated for repeated and extensive contacts with Russian intelligence officials. And as I cautioned Arkansas this weekend, I would say to your viewers, you should not trust media sources or media reports based on anonymous sources.
The one thing you can trust in those articles is the caveats that undermine the headlines and the lead paragraphs. And in that very New York Times story, the third paragraph said there was no evidence so far of any such cooperation.
WALLACE: And you as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know you've been briefed by FBI Director Comey and other members of the intelligence committee and investigative committee, you've seen no evidence so far of collusion?
COTTON: Thus far, I have not.
Now, we are still in a relatively early stages of our inquiry and it will be thorough and white-ranging and follow the facts wherever they take us. But I would simply caution your viewers again -- do not to credit media reports based on anonymous sources. It doesn’t mean you should discard them, doesn’t mean they’re false. We’ll review these allegations, but I’m encouraging your viewers not to take them at face value.
WALLACE: Senator Chris Coons, who is our next guest, will be on after the break, said this on Friday. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DE., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin, were cooperating, were colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: As a member of the intelligence committee, sir, is that true?
COTTON: I would prefer not to discuss what transcripts may or may not be available, because that would reveal what we do and do not know, and our capabilities of knowing those things. And I would just leave it at that.
WALLACE: But you stand by your statement that you've seen no evidence of collusion?
COTTON: I do.
WALLACE: You know, this is a complicated subject. I wanted to talk to you about a lot of other things. President Trump --
COTTON: Let me talk to you about my immigration bill. Immigration --
WALLACE: Well, next time, because here's the point, sir. President Trump is living under a cloud and his agenda is being sidetracked by continued leaks from inside the government. The New York Times reported this week, this was one of those media stories, that the Obama administration disseminated intelligence widely about Russia and Mr. Trump to assure it wasn't destroyed.
Do you believe there's an effort inside this government to undercut President Trump and to derail his agenda?
COTTON: Well, Chris, that New York Times story to me just doesn't make sense on its face. I mean, the intelligence community doesn't willy-nilly destroy intelligence that has been collected.
I would point out to your viewers that the FBI is not just a law enforcement agency, it’s part of our intelligence services, it does counterintelligence. The FBI reports to the Department of Justice, which is run by political appointees. Until January 20th, those political appointees were Barack Obama's appointees, just like the members of his National Security Council was.
Now, there's obviously been a lot of leaks coming out from either current or especially former administration officials. I suspect that most of the information comes from former Obama officials who still have not come to grips with the fact that Donald Trump won this election.
And story right here, again, this doesn’t make sense on its face. That information is preserved. It's almost always shared with Congress. So, any efforts to destroy it would not be effective.
And, finally, as part of our inquiry on the intelligence committee, we've been given access to highly sensitive, foundational documents that were the basis of the intelligence community’s Russian assessment. That didn't happen in the Obama administration. That happened in the Trump administration.
WALLACE: Finally, we have another development this week and that was that Attorney General Sessions recused himself from any involvement in this investigation.
Do you trust the Justice Department now with Sessions out of it to investigate itself, or given the fact that if President Trump is right, he has disclosed information he shouldn't about a wiretap that would be part of this investigation? Do you think there's a need for a special counsel to handle this matter going forward?
COTTON: I see no reason for that at this point, Chris. I would like to see politically accountable officials make decisions, which means I’d like to see the Senate move promptly to confirm President Trump’s deputy attorney general and associate attorney general. I think the American people deserve democratically accountable officials making these decisions.
But at this point, there’s no -- I see no reason why that would be necessary. I also see no reason why we would try to appoint some kind of independent or special committee or commission, in part because it would delay our conclusions. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s work is underway.
We have the staff. We get appropriate clearances. We have the space. We have the infrastructure. We've made the decisions, or we’ve made the agreements with the intelligence community, review the documents.
If you started over with a new commission or a new committee, that could take months. I think it's in the best interest of the American people if we conduct our review as quickly as possible and make as much of our conclusions as public as possible.
WALLACE: Senator Cotton, thank you. Thanks for your time. I promise that the next time you are here, we’re going to talk about your immigration bill in-depth, sir.
COTTON: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.
WALLACE: Up next, Democratic Senator Chris Coons on the latest astonishing twist in the investigation of whether there was any link between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
WALLACE: Now, we continue our coverage of the latest developments in the Trump-Russia story with the president accusing former President Obama of tapping his phones in Trump Tower before the election.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.
And, Senator, I want to begin where I began with Senator Cotton -- your reaction to President Trump's allegations that his phones were tapped by President Obama.
COONS: Well, Chris, these are remarkable allegations. I think another attempt by President Trump to change the subject. But this deserves a full investigation.
And the larger point, I think, I will agree with Senator Cotton on, is that it's in the best interest of our country for us to move forward promptly and get to the bottom of all of this. I believe that no president should ever directly order and intercept a wiretap on an American citizen. That's not what our system provides. You have to go in front of a judge and get a warrant in order to conduct a wiretap.
So, one of two things has happened here. Either President Trump has inappropriately released classified information and was himself a subject of a court-ordered wiretap, or -- and I think this is a very remote possibility -- there was some inappropriate actions by the previous administration.
In either case, it doesn't help our country for this to all be worked out on Twitter. It ought to be worked out in a full, fair, prompt, and thorough investigation, whether by the Senate Intelligence Committee, if they can get to the bottom of this, or by a special prosecutor.
WALLACE: Well, there is another possibility, too, which is that it's just not true, isn’t there?
COONS: That's right, of course.
COONS: Yes, it’s quite possible it's just not true and the president offered no evidence or backing for his outlandish claim.
WALLACE: Why would you suggest in that clip that I just played for Senator Cotton that there are FBI transcripts that show, and I want to get your words, "provide very critical insights" in the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?
COONS: What I was trying to make clear, Chris, and I appreciate a chance to restate this, is that I don't have, and I don't know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. But I believe that our intelligence community, which is the most sophisticated in the world, has intercepts, has raw intelligence, and it's important that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an investigation be given access to those intercepts, to transcripts of those intercepts, so that they can get to the bottom of this.
The American people, Chris, want us to move forward. They want us to work together in Washington and it's important for us to remember that the Russians are our adversaries. Republicans and Democrats, we have different political agendas, different political views, but we can and should work together to make sure that what intelligence there is, is gotten access to by the intelligence committee.
And if they’re stonewalled or blocked, that there's a special prosecutor appointed. That’s the point I was trying to make.
WALLACE: Senator, I don't think anybody would object to that. But that isn't quite what you said on Friday. I want to replay the clip of what you said on Friday, which is different. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COONS: There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence and senior Russian political leaders, including Vladimir Putin were cooperating, with colluding with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, we’re talking here about the president of the United States. Isn't there more than a whiff of McCarthyism for you as a U.S. senator to say there are transcripts out there that provide insight into whether or not there was collusion, but you don't even know whether they exist?
COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, what I was trying to encourage was that the intelligence committee be given access to the raw intelligence. I’ve been told now that that's going to happen this coming week and I think that's positive and productive.
Last week on the floor of the Senate, I joined Republican Senator Marco Rubio in a joint speech to talk about Russian interference, Russia as our adversary and the importance of us working together. At the end of speech, Senator Rubio said, "I won't be part of a witch hunt, and it won’t be part of a cover-up."
So, to the extent of those comments, they might be some way misinterpreted as leading to sort of a hyperventilating attitude here in the Senate about this, I apologize for that. That's not what I was trying to do.
What I was trying to do, and I think it's important, is to draw the American people to what joins us in common, which is the need for us to get to the bottom of this, to get access to what intelligence there is. I am confident that intelligence exists that is relevant to this question. Not that says there is collusion, and proof of it, that's not what I was trying to say.
WALLACE: I want to ask --
COONS: Last week there were -- Chris, last week, there were senior Republicans and President Trump in previous weeks saying there's nothing here. There's nothing to look at. And this was just after Senator Sessions was revealed to either have misspoken or misrepresented his meetings with the Russian ambassador. I think it's in all of our interest for this to be investigated fully, fairly and promptly and for what intelligence exists. And I’m confident that such intelligence exists --
WALLACE: So, Senator --
COONS: -- be made available to the intelligence committee.
WALLACE: If I may, I want to talk about the broader story here. Do you have any evidence at this point, in this investigation has been going on for a long period of time. We know that the FBI and intelligence sources were looking at this at least in October, because that's when they all came out and said that the Russians were interfering.
Do you know of any hard evidence of collusion between what I call "Trump world" and the Russians to interfere in his presidential campaign? Not suspicions, not contacts, but evidence of collusion.
COONS: Chris, I have no hard evidence of collusion. I think what hard evidence there may be will be discovered either through a full release of President Trump's financial interests and concerns and taxes, or the intercepts that I believe our intelligence community and FBI have of conversations between and among Russian officials. And that's why I think it's important for us to get the bottom of this, so we are not still talking about this as an unresolved issue where we don't know the answer months and months from now.
WALLACE: But, sir, do you worry that this continued talk about this when we are months into this and there was no evidence of collusion, there's no evidence that any crime or anything untoward was committed -- do you worry that this continues to put this president under a cloud, continues to derail his agenda, or frankly, sir, is that precisely the point?
COONS: Well, to be clear, Chris, I’m not the person who forced or coerced in any way Senator Sessions to answer incorrectly or falsely in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee --
WALLACE: We’re going to get to Sessions, I promise to get to Sessions in a moment.
Is the point here, to keep this White House from being able to do what it's trying to do by continuing, at this point, evidence-free debate about collusion with the Russians?
COONS: That's not my goal, Chris. I recently met with the new commerce secretary just on Thursday, to sit down with him and say I’m on the relevant subcommittee that appropriates the Commerce Department's funding. I would like to work with you and manufacturing policy. I think we can do things to get back to focusing on growing our economy and growing manufacturing jobs.
Chris, you know me, and I think you'd recognize that I’m someone who is willing to work across the aisle. My goal here is to make sure that we defend our democracy. It's outrageous to suggest that we shouldn't investigate thoroughly and fully what are credible allegations of Russian interference in our election.
WALLACE: I don't think anybody is suggesting that we shouldn't investigate it. The question is, when there's talk about collusion without any evidence, is that helpful or is that simply blocking the government and Donald Trump from being able to do what he was elected by millions of Americans to do?
You wanted to talk about Sessions, so let's do that, because that was the other part of the story. Attorney General Sessions, in his confirmation hearing on January 10th, he was asked by Senator Franken, and let’s put this in context -- there had just been breaking news on CNN of a dossier that I come out that showed that there was compromising information about Donald Trump and also that there had been continuous contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and it was in that context of his breaking information that Senator Sessions didn't know that he was asked the following question.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN, D-MINN., JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have -- did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Sir, I’ve only got a little over a minute left. Do you believe that Senator Sessions lied to that committee that you are a member of?
COONS: Well, Senator Sessions certainly misspoke when he said I did not have communications with the Russians. And whether or not that is a willful misrepresentation, a lie, is something I think we should investigate. I think the attorney general ought to come back to the Judiciary Committee and to answer questions so we can clear the air and get to the bottom of this.
That's the only way we are going to move forward with confidence in our system. I do think this is a distraction from governing, but it's an important distraction, one that deserves our attention in a measured and bipartisan way because Russians did interfere with our election and why they interfered and what the consequences is going to matter to our defense of our democracy going forward.
WALLACE: Senator Coons, thank you. Thanks for joining us today. It's always good to talk with you, sir.
COONS: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Coming up, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the sharply escalating battle over alleged ties between President Trump and the Kremlin.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the controversy? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
WALLACE: Coming up, the Trump administration fends off allegations of links to the Kremlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: Let me be clear, I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the continuing cloud over the Trump White House, next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: And the ambassador to Russia. Wow, he was in his U.S. Senate office. If that were to take place, which supposedly did take place, what other conversations did they listen in on?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski supporting the president’s claim that the Obama administration eavesdropped on Donald Trump and his team.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Dana Perino, co-host of "The Five", Bob Woodward from "The Washington Post," Peter Baker, who covers the White House for The New York Times, and Laura Ingraham, editor of Lifezette and a Fox News political analyst.
Well, Peter, I'm sure you've been working your White House sources feverishly ever since President Trump's tweets started appearing on Saturday morning. Do they have any evidence to back up his contention that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump and Trump Tower?
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, I don't think they do. And I think you – you – you basically elicited that from two very well-connected senators. There isn’t an evidence chain at this point that would – that would support such a sweeping assertion.
Now, we obviously do have, you know, some reporting out there about an investigation of people around Trump and it’s certainly conceivable that some of the people around Trump have – have had their communications intercepted. Remember, the FBI intercepts a lot of Russian’s communications and if Russians were talking with Americans, they might have already tripped over that. But the idea that – the idea that Trump himself –
WALLACE: Right, but – but – but Trump was saying something different. He was saying that they tried – that they wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower and they didn’t offer any evidence of that?
BAKER: And – and that the president of the United States, at the time, Barack Obama, ordered it. There’s evidence no that we know of to that effect.
WALLACE: Laura, first there's the question whether this is all true, whether or not the Obama administration – pretty – it would be very dramatic – ordered the tapping of the phones of Donald Trump in Trump Tower. But, second, it seems to me, is there a political question, which is, why does Donald Trump want to keep breathing life into this story about the whole Russia-Trump connection at a – at the precise moment he's trying to unveil and push his agenda?
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, perhaps one of the reasons – and I – I don't know, but I'm just speculating – perhaps one of the reasons is, is because the reporting on the Russia supposed connection, inclusion with the Trump campaign has been just feverishly overblown. The – the sound bite that you played, for instance, to – to Coons about Jeff Sessions, the entire sound bite where Al Franken is asking that question, which is really revealing, is – he’s like – it’s this rambling question about, well, CNN is reporting about some report that there might be compromising information. I don't even know if you've ever seen it, but – obviously the import of the question was, are you – are – are – did you speak with Russians in your capacity as a surrogate for the campaign, and was that about the campaign machinations and that was obviously the question.
I actually don't think Jeff Sessions needed to recuse himself. I know that might be controversial, but if Jeff Sessions told the truth, and I believe he did in that – in that question and the follow-up questions, the written question submitted by Leahy, I don't think he had to recuse himself. I think Donald Trump’s probably frustrated about that. I think a lot of – a lot of pressure was put on Sessions to recuse himself. He was considering recusing himself earlier. But the idea that Russia threw the election for Donald Trump and people in Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania were all like, well, the – the – the Russians –
WALLACE: But that’s not really what they’re saying. They’re –
INGRAHAM: That – that’s –
WALLACE: No, they’re not saying that they threw the election. They’re saying that there was collusion to interfere with the election. That – saying that’s why he got elected.
INGRAHAM: Right, between Carter – yes, but Carter page (ph), who was a one-time foreign policy informal advisor to Trump and Paul Manafort, who was no longer with Trump, those guys, like, were at conferences and saw some Russians, people connected with Russia and Europe. The thing is so tenuous. And I think you scratched the surface of it in your interview with – with Coons, and he said to say, well, we don't really have any evidence of collusion.
This is a typical Washington feeding frenzy based on little to no evidence.
INGRAHAM: And I think most people watching this are like, are we actually going to talk about the fact that, you know, we need to have jobs, the economy and the border enforced? I think people are saying enough already.
WALLACE: Well, yes, but that's my point is, Donald Trump, who fed that this weekend with his tweets –
INGRAHAM: I think – I don’t – I think John Fabro’s (ph) tweet, Chris, today, or yesterday, when he said, I’d be careful of people saying that the administration did not issue the FISA.
WALLACE: I – I wonder if people are just trolling.
INGRAHAM: I –
WALLACE: But in any case, let me – let me – let me – let me bring in Dana because we asked you for questions for the panel and we asked you what you – your questions about this whole issue of collusion with the Russians. Janis Gibson, and this gets kind of to your point, Laura, Janis Gibson said this on Facebook. "I honestly think the Dems are using this as a diversion. Of all the issues facing America, they focus on this. It's tiresome." But John Ferguson sees it a bit differently. "The Republicans would not let Benghazi and e-mail scandal go. Why should Dems let Russians go. Hypocrisy on both sides. Will it never end?" And that’s really the question, is this just more of this constant cycle of political hardball?
DANA PERINO, CO-HOST, "THE FIVE": Yes. However, I do think that Washington is able to do a couple of things at once. So you have several investigations going on with this supposed collusion and now I guess the president's team has said that they are going to ask congressional committees to also add in this question of allegations that President Obama directly asked for a wiretap about President Trump. And I would imagine there’s about 50 percent of the people in America today who believe that actually happened, even if there’s no evidence of it, and the same is true from Democrats’ perspective, who think there’s collusion when there, as the senator said, there is no evidence that they’ve seen about that so far.
But at the same time, tomorrow I believe you’ll have a new executive order from President Trump on the immigration issue. You’ll have an Obamacare plan that’s sort of put out there by the House team. And they have lots of different things that they have to do, including a budget, with members of the cabinet now having to go up to Congress and defend either a plus up for the military budget or the cuts that Donald Trump wants. And, in the m meantime, we haven't really had anything go bang in the world. But as we all know, that can happen at any moment.
WALLACE: Bob – and I promise, folks, we are going to talk about real issues and the agenda in the next segment.
As someone who’s seen a few Washington scandals, though, and – and I will defend myself on this question of – of – of talking about this so much because it was Donald Trump who –
BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Indeed it was.
WALLACE: Who created this – this storm this weekend. What do you make of this? What do you make of the whole allegation of collusion? What do you make of the – of the story that came out of The New York Times this week that the Obama administration spread the intelligence like breadcrumbs so that it would be out there and people would continue to talk about it and perhaps these leaks would happen? And then what do you make of – of Donald Trump's tweets this weekend?
WOODWARD: Well, first of all, you've got to understand that as President Trump has this vast espionage establishment as his disposal, $50 billion a year plus, even in the CIA they call him the first customer. So he can get the information he wants. He's the only one in the government. The question is, did he just spontaneously, because he’d read something or heard something, put out this tweet, which is quite serious. We don't know. You’re absolutely right, no evidence on that. On the Russian collusion, there's a lot of smoke, no evidence.
The other thing is, the mechanisms for investigating this are weak. Sessions, the attorney general, has recused himself. OK, how is the Justice Department, the FBI, going to really examine this? There's no independent counsel law. Special prosecutors don't work. Congress also is not very well-equipped to do this. They've had some flops in recent investigations. So the quality of information of evidence we’re liable to get is going to be weak. I have to recall, Watergate went on for two years and two months to get some sort of closure and clarity. I wonder how long this is going to take, months or years.
WALLACE: Oh, boy. But, you know, the only difference, Watergate, there was a break-in. There – we don't have any evidence of a break-in.
WOODWARD: Yes, exactly. There was a clearly established crime.
WALLACE: Crime, right.
WOODWARD: And in this case, you don't have it. But there is a – there is lot of suggestion. People have just not come clean about what they did.
Trump’s the one, because he is the president, who could actually say, let’s really examine this and put out some internal report.
BAKER: There was (INAUDIBLE) there was a break-in. It was a break-in in the e-mail accounts in the United States by Russian sources according to the intelligence agencies.
WALLACE: Right. Right. But I’m talking about – the question as to whether there was collusion in the Trump camp.
BAKER: Right. Who’s responsible about it is the next question. And the break-in we didn’t know necessarily who was responsible about it at first, and that's where the investigation led. That’s unlikely – you know, we don't think that that's necessarily where this is going to go at this point. And, you’re right, it’s a lot of – a lot of smoke without a lot of – a lot of heat and a lot of – a lot of heat without a lot of light. And the question is, you know, it's hard to imagine that a presidential candidate actually colluded in a very explicit way with a foreign power. The bigger questions have been raised.
WALLACE: I know you guys just want to talk about this, but I want to talk about issues. I want to talk about what somebody – is going to affect somebody's life, Laura. And despite your best efforts, we’re going to talk about that.
WALLACE: We’re going to take a break here. When we come back, Donald Trump laid out an ambitious agenda to Congress this week. Where does that stand? And will the Russian controversy derail it?
Back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump appealing for unity in his speech to Congress this week. A moment that now feels like it was a long time ago. And we’re back with the panel.
Dana, President Trump gave, in that speech to Congress, what most people think was a very effective speech, laying out his agenda. But we now hear that there are serious slips among Republicans in Congress on the issue of Obamacare repeal and replace and tax reforms. So what kind of shape – forget Russia – what kind of shape is the Obama – is the Trump agenda in?
PERINO: I think it's actually in better shape than maybe it looks on paper and that behind the scenes because you have good cooperation between President Trump, the vice president, because of his relationship with a lot of members on The Hills, and then McConnell, who runs his caucus very well. So there will be an Obamacare repeal and replacement. Not everyone’s going to agree. And I do think that President Trump will have to find time in his schedule to get out there and provide some explanation in the way that only he can, which is very direct and explains to people exactly how he thinks it will work and that everyone’s going to be taken care of.
At the same time, you have other planes circling about the airport and that would be the Supreme Court nomination. That has got to figure out a way to get to land. And you’re going to have a debt ceiling debate in a couple of weeks as well. So lots of things happening. You’ve got to figure out how to sequence these things. Obamacare repeal and replacement will be first. And it will be hard.
WALLACE: Well, let’s – let's talk about that, Bob, because there is talk on Obamacare that – that House Speaker Ryan is going to end up putting a bill on the floor that he knows some conservatives in his own caucus think is too soft, still creates a government entitlement, uses these refundable tax credits to pay for it and basically dare conservatives to block it, saying if you’d want to stop repealing Obamacare, it’s on you. That's a pretty high-risk strategy, isn’t it?
WOODWARD: I mean if you take people and put them on sodium pentothal, the truth serum, and say, do understand Obamacare, everyone will agree they’re not sure that they do. There are splits in the Republican Party, in the House and in the Senate. There are splits in the White House. It’s going to be interesting to see if this comes together at all in a reasonable period of time.
WALLACE: Do – do you – do you think that he might – Ryan might really do that, not know that he has the votes and just put it out there and basically play chicken with House conservatives?
WOODWARD: Well, Ryan has said privately, he thinks he has a good relationship with Trump on these domestic issues and that he can kind of call the shots. We're – we’re going to see. I – again, I'm – I’m not going to say a year or two again, but this could take a long time. And there’s this sense of, oh you can push a button and take a very complex, troubled law and fix it is a fantasy.
WALLACE: Laura, let's drill down a little bit on – on – on a couple of the big political differences on Obamacare. One has to do this – with this question of how you’re going to help lower income people pay for insurance, people who aren’t covered by Medicaid, and there’s this idea of refundable tax credits, people would get money. As you know, some of the more conservative people say, hey, that's just another name for subsidies. It's the same deal. And you’re creating a new entitlement.
There's also this question about the 11 billion people who gained coverage under the expansion of Medicaid. What happens to them? Those are really sizable issues.
INGRAHAM: It's always hard when you create a new entitlement to pull back on that entitlement. That’s why elections matter. When President Obama won in 2008, he came in, he passed Obamacare with not a single Republican vote and now it's – it’s such a labyrinthine mess of a – a piece of legislation that it’s like that old game Kerplunk. You pull one stick out, and the whole thing falls apart.
I would say this, Chris, and a lot of – a lot of conservatives are calling into my radio show, they’re – they believe Donald Trump ran on a very serious reform agenda. That you weren't just going to be tinkering with some of these behemoths of government programs. You were really going to tackle them. And that means bring the cost of health care down. He talked about that a little bit in his speech. The prescription drug prices, which are skyrocketing. The cost of health care, which is – it needs to be busted up and dealt with by removing the anti-trust protections that health care providers get. Those are things that a lot of the Republicans don’t want to tackle. That would actually bring health care costs down by almost 60 to 70 percent says experts like Ramin Oskoui, the renowned cardiologist in Washington. That would bring care down so much that people could go to the doctor for a sore throat or a sprained ankle and pay nothing for it. But we’re going to tinker with – with the mandate and do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Meanwhile, we might leave this iPad board, otherwise known as the death panel, still in the legislation. It still could survive in the Ryan legislation, which would – could lead to huge cuts in coverage down the road for all Americans.
Dana’s right, the president needs to use his political capital in his election victory and go to Capitol Hill and be confident in what he wants and make that case to the American people. I don't think it can all be on Paul Ryan's shoulders. I think it’s got to be a broad-based pitch for real reform.
WALLACE: But let me – let me bring Peter in here because, as Laura describes it, there is a huge political debate, even after seven years of talking about repealing Obamacare, there’s still a huge debate about how to replace it. And then you've also got the tax reform and his huge fight and there are a bunch of them, but the one that sort of has risen to the surface is about the border adjustment tax and whether you’re going to tax imports coming in or not. Do you get the sense that the Trump White House has a clear strategy, both in terms of political strategy, legislative strategy, and also in terms of substance, of how to get both of these through?
BAKER: What’s really interesting about President Trump’s team is that they’re actually not on the same page on a lot of these issues and that they’re playing –
WALLACE: Even with each other?
BAKER: Even with each other, and that they’re playing these debates out pretty publicly. I mean on the border adjustment taxes, as you mentioned, you’ve got the – the Bannon wing of the – of the White House who says, yes, we should tax these imports, protect American industries. You’ve got the Gary Cohn, who’s the national economic advisor wing saying, no, that’s – that’s not the way we want to go. And they don’t know. And – and – and – and they’re having these fights out in a very public way, which I think is different than some other White Houses.
WALLACE: But how do you push legislation, tough legislation, through Congress if you don't have a clear strategy coming from the top, from the president?
BAKER: That’s ultimately going to be have – the key, right, does the president make up his mind? At this point he hasn’t on some of these big issues and he has to sit down and say, OK, this is the way we’re going. Once he does that, then Republicans will start to fall in behind him presumably. But, at the moment, when he hasn't made a decision, there's a free-for-all and it – and everybody feels entitled and emboldened to have this debate because he hasn’t said yet.
WALLACE: We’ve got – we’ve got about 30 seconds left, though. I mean I think it would be fair to say that this president is good on the broad strokes, not so interested or so good on the – the fine details. There’s a lot of fine detail here. Is there going to be a tax credit? Is there not going to be? What's going to happen on the – on the death panel board? Does this president going to get engaged in that and start calling people and saying, I need your support for –
BAKER: Well, he just said – just last week I think he said, look, this is – who knew it was so complicated to do health care. Well, a lot of people knew it was that complicated. He's discovering it. He's a new president. He’s not experiencing in politics. So we’ll see how he learns.
WALLACE: Thanks, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week," an exciting new face in the show me state.
WALLACE: President Trump ran as an outsider in 2016, but he wasn't the only one. One candidate took a road to office with even more twists and turns. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."
GOV. ERIC GREITENS, R-MISSOURI: I’ve come as a conservative, as an outsider, as a Navy SEAL, and we’re taking on politics as usual.
If thank you. God bless you. God bless the state of Missouri.
WALLACE (voice-over): Meet Eric Greitens, elected in November as Missouri’s governor. And at age 42, the nation’s second youngest.
GREITENS: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations.
WALLACE: But what really sets him apart is his path to public office. Back in 2000, he was a Rhodes Scholar who also worked with humanitarians groups in war-torn countries like Bosnia and Rwanda. One day at Oxford, he looked at a memorial for Rhodes Scholars who died in the two world wars.
GREITENS: If they hadn't have made that decision that – I – I wouldn't be standing here. And I realized that at that moment that I wanted to do my part and I wanted to serve.
WALLACE: Greitens did four tours as a Navy SEAL, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
GREITENS: You know that at every moment there’s somebody to your left and somebody to your right and that they’re counting on you. I can stay strong for them for ten more seconds. I can fight for them for one more minute. If I can make it for one more minute, I can make it for ten more minutes.
WALLACE: When Greitens returned to Missouri, he started a non-profit called "The Mission Continues" to help veterans with disabilities recover by serving others.
GREITENS: Continue their mission of service in communities and start their own businesses and get quality private sector jobs and to live as contributing citizens again here at home.
WALLACE: The Ferguson riots in 2014 were the turning point that led Greitens into politics.
GREITENS: Ferguson was a tremendous failure. If we’d had a leader who had shown up with any kind of command presence and courage and calm and clarity, we could have had peace by the second night.
WALLACE: Greitens ran as an outsider and he wasn't subtle about it.
GREITENS: Well, I'm no career politician. I'm a Navy SEAL and I’ll take dead aim at politics as usual.
WALLACE: As governor, he has kept aiming at the same target.
WALLACE (on camera): You talk about ethics reform before issues, why?
GREITENS: Well – well, because we have to have people who trust their leaders. You know, people want to have leaders who they can have confidence in.
WALLACE (voice-over): His first act was to ban gifts from lobbyists to members of the executive branch.
GREITENS: The people of Missouri are ready to work, so let's get to work today.
WALLACE: But he’s also signed a right to work law to boost Missouri’s economy. And on public safety, he’s worked out with local police and gone to poor neighborhoods to hand out sandwiches.
GREITENS: We need to have leaders who are willing to go to the front line, and that's what – what too many politicians have just failed to do.
WALLACE: When Greitens and his wife Sheena held their first event in the governor's residence, they were told it's usually a cocktail party for political insiders. Instead, they invited three foster families for dinner, as a symbol of the 13,000 kids in state foster care.
GREITENS: As governor, we can make a difference in those kids' lives. As governor, we can keep our promises to the people of Missouri and make their lives better, get results for them. That's what's so satisfying.
WALLACE: Greitens says he was raised a Democrat after being taught that’s the party that cares about people. But after watching how government bureaucracy works, he says he became a conservative, not by birth, but conviction.
And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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