This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," March 11, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm David Asman, in this week for Bill Gigot.
Two key House committees approved the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act late this week. It will be the bill's first victory after a very rocky rollout. The White House promising a, quote, "full-court press" to push the plan forward amid a backlash from some conservative lawmakers over what should replace ObamaCare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: We have to admit that we are divided on replacement. We are united on repeal but we are divided on replacement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: Joining the penal this week. Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; editorial board member, Joe Rago; and columnist, Bill McGurn.
Kim, you spent a lot of time talking to conservatives who oppose this bill this week. What is their view?
KIM STRASSEL, WAHINGTON COLUMNIST: So here is the good news, David, that the leadership is actually moving ahead with both repeal and replace. The problem is they erred on the side of being very generous to some of their more Senate modernists and centrists with a couple of provisions, particularly on Medicaid, some tax questions. Conservatives are unhappy about those proposals. They feel as though the Medicaid expansion goes on too long, that they should have cut the Cadillac tax that was kept. So there's a series of negotiations going on. I think the good news is that those negotiations are happening. And they may end in a place where everybody can say yes.
ASMAN: Dan, President Trump says the dispute is overblown by the media, that he is going to make a deal, that he's invited them to these bowling parties. There is one this week and one next week. Is there going to be a compromise in the end?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Oh, yeah, I think there should be a compromise. David, I think this is just wonderful. We've return to normal politics after eight years of having basically no give-and-take between the White House and Congress, or even among the members of Congress. This is what politicians come to Washington to do, is to do politics. And I don't have the slightest doubt that once the conservatives get their hand in there and once there is some give-and-take over this, we are going to get a bill. And were going to get a bill very quickly.
I'm glad to see Washington doing this sort of thing again. I think that's what people wanted to see. This is the opposite of gridlock. Real horse trading.
ASMAN: I'm just wondering, who gives and who takes, and what does it end up as, this bill.
JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMGBER: Sure. There is this or that detail that can be worked out on the floor in committees in the Senate. But I think it's important to say, amid all of this opposition, this is the most important conservative social policy reform since the 1990s. If you look at what it does to Medicaid, if you look at what it does in the individual insurance market, this is real progress. So there is always good to be some kind of internal division but they are really moving forward here.
ASMAN: Bill, it's progress unless - and this is part of the horse-trading business that is unappealing to a lot of Americans -- is the swamp-like dealing that goes on inside the Beltway. And whether or not -- in fact, Rand Paul has already said there are so many carveouts to the insurance companies in the GP bill that is unacceptable from that point of view, to which you say what?
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: I would say I think almost all of the conservative critiques are correct in abstract form. It's not what I would pick if I could ram through a reform. But I would also say this is the most important reform that we have, but was a promise that was associated with Republicans. We have to move to better, not best. I think also there is a lot of posturing going on now. But when people realize it's this or nothing, I think working to see a lot of the final opposition melt away.
Remember, the Democrats got in trouble because they rammed it through their own Congress.
MCGURN: By huge majorities. And Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid chose to ram it through. Remember --
ASMAN: I remember well.
MCGURN: -- we have to pass it before we find out what's in it?
ASMAN: That's right.
MCGURN: Republicans are doing the opposite way. They're actually debating different provisions.
ASMAN: And, Kim, you have a chance to read it now. You can get online. It was not that tough of a read. It's about 150 pages.
But I'm just wondering, you know, there is a key element in the Republican problem with ObamaCare, which I think is worth mentioning. And Mick Mulvaney, who is a conservative, Freedom Caucus sort of spy, if you well, inside the Trump administration, he might be a great person to negotiate with the hardline conservatives on this. He said it very clearly. He said there is a different between full insurance coverage and health care. You can have full insurance and still have a $12,000 deductible and not be able to afford good health care because of that. That is really one key element the conservatives had a problem with that may be addressed by Donald Trump.
STRASSEL: I think the point of this here is not just to remedy what is a failing ObamaCare system but to set one up that actually works and deliver good and affordable health care to people, with an emphasis on the good. We also need better health care, not just one people can afford to sign up for.
You mentioned Mick Mulvaney. He's the kind of secret weapon here as well. He's basically been living on Capitol Hill, having negotiations with a lot of the more conservative element there and selling this. They have a lot of respect for him. If anybody can talk them around and come to a place where they can get to a deal, this is a guy who is going to be very important in helping.
ASMAN: Let's talk, Dan, about timing because they have a very aggressive agenda, the Trump administration. They want to do the ObamaCare replacement and have tax cuts by August, before the August recess. Do you think they will be able to do it, get all these deals done so they can get a tax cut? We've got to remember, the economy needs a tax cut in order to grow more.
HENNINGER: The budget reconciliation process is driving the ObamaCare bill. It looks like it's moving along pretty well, past two committees. I think some of these problems will be worked out between the conservatives and the moderate. And once they get past that and the numbers that will be scored inside this ObamaCare bill, then they can move on to the crucially important matter of the tax bill. And the big thing, factor here is that Donald Trump has been engaged in pushing the Ryan plan for reforming the Affordable Care Act, and I would suspect he will that turn his attention and his energies to politicking with Congress to get that tax bill.
ASMAN: Bill, quickly, Ronald Reagan really didn't get the details of the tax cuts in for 18 months into his administration, and it wasn't until then that the economy took off. We are in danger here, as good as some signs are. We had a good jobs number on Friday. There are other good signs. Nevertheless, we need a tax cut now to get the economy growing.
RAGO: I think that key here is setting priorities. I think Donald Trump has to realize that the two things most important to him this year, apart from the Supreme Court nominee, are tax cuts and ObamaCare reform. And he has to make them priorities. And then he has to do what he said he can do, and that's go out and sell it to the people.
ASMAN: OK, we have a lot more to come. As the FBI probes this week's WikiLeaks dump, a look at the damage done to American intelligence by Jillian Assange's' latest assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: The CIA was so careless to produce this material, this enormous cyber weapons arsenal, and lose control of it, at least once, and that it has spread.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, accusing the CIA this week of, quote, "devastating incompetence" for failing to protect its hacking secrets after his anti-secrecy website released thousands of pages describing the tools and the techniques used by the agency to break into Smartphones, computers, even Internet-connected TVs.
The FBI has launched an investigation into this week's document dump, Bill, as the largest leak of CIA material in history of the spy agency. So, Bill, how big of deal is this?
MCGURN: It's a very big deal. This is about methods and operations, what we're doing. As Julian Assange describes it, the hacking arsenal. In the 21st century of asymmetric war, if we don't want to invade countries, intelligence, good intelligence will be our number-one asset. This undermines billions in investments and so forth, and the advantages that the United States has in technology. And you're right to call it an assault. It's an assault on the United States. The sensible reason is to stir debate but there are a lot of ways to have a debate, to go to committees and so forth. This was a freelance attack on the United States.
ASMAN: Joe, what are people out there, most people really more concerned about, the security breach itself or the fact that the government has all of the spy power?
RAGO: Look, powers like this can sometimes sound scary, but you have to put in context, which is you are being surveilled all the time by all of your consumer products. Financial companies are watching your credit card transactions. Google is running algorithms on your e-mail. Everything you do online, there's basically no more expectation of privacy. So I guess with things like this, where it is exposed, is any worse than anything else or is this just a routine feature of American life?
ASMAN: Dan, I've got to say, when I plugged my new TV into the Internet and realized how convenient it was, I wonder people value the convenience over their concern about the loss of privacy?
HENNINGER: Well, I don't think they should be too concerned about the loss of privacy. You have to understand a few things about what happened here. The CIA has these tools, and they're not using these tools to simply scan the whole galaxy of iPhones and Smart Television. They are using it to go into discrete telephones and individuals that they had targeted. The reason they don't do that is because, all of these companies, Apple, Google and Microsoft themselves are looking for holes in their software. They find them all the time. The best advice I can give people is do those upgrades because they always include security patches. It's just because contractors, outside hackers, they find these things, they tell the companies about them, and they close the patches. The CIA run the risk, if they're running a broad skin of all of these things, of exposing their own tools. They don't need Julian Assange to do that. There's a whole community of software engineers who do this for them.
ASMAN: Although this --
HENNINGER: They use very discriminately.
ASMAN: Kim, this was very costly to the intel community. Let's talk about how they repair the damage. First of all, the cost of this, a lot of their secrets got out, they're going to have to retool a lot of their techniques. And lord knows if anybody's life was put at risk by this.
STRASSEL: I mean, this is the other part of this discussion, is what failure happened at that U.S. intelligence orbit to allow this. Bill is right, this was an attack, but it was a successful attack. So who failed and where. And then you have a lot of questions about this.
There seems to be some indication that it was a CIA contractor that accessed the information. They are beginning to look through the roles of those people. But there's also questions about other stuff. The House Intelligence Committee has come out with a very forceful statement. It looks like the CIA knew that this happened at the end of last year. Didn't go and tell Congress about it. So I think there is some responsibility questions for the breach as well, how it happened and how you make sure it doesn't happen again.
ASMAN: To make sure, Bill, President Trump will have to spend a lot more money on intel perhaps --
MCGURN: I think Kim is right. The oversight committees and the intelligence committees -- look, I used to work in the White House. The Chinese have my Social Security now because of the different --
ASMAN: Have they used it?
MCGURN: I don't know. The NSA had other leaks. A free society needs to be able to keep secrets. And is not a coincidence that we don't have Beijing's secrets or Moscow's secrets publish out there.
HENNINGER: How about a word for Julian Assange? I mean, Julian Assange says he wants to work with the CIA. Does Julian Assange, has he ever done a WikiLeaks dump from the Russian FSB or Chinese intelligence?
HENNINGER: It's always only the United States that Julian Assange seems to be leaking.
ASMAN: By the way, Joe, he says he also wants to work with the tech companies so that they -- I would think they'd be nuts if they were to open up their doors to Julian Assange. Think of all he could get from them as opposed to giving to them.
RAGO: Luckily, that will not happen. This is not --
ASMAN: As naive as Silicon Valley is, they're not that naive, right?
RAGO: I don't think they're very naive. They're studying these dumps to look at ways their encryption may have been compromised. Going forward, I don't think we will see Julian Assange at Mountain View.
ASMAN: Last answer. Fascinating discussion.
When we come back, the Pentagon confirming that hundreds of U.S. Marines are now on the ground in Syria. So does the deployment signal a shift in U.S. involvement there and the Trump administration's plan to fight ISIS. We'll ask General Jack Keane, coming up next.
ASMAN: U.S. Marines are now on the ground in Syria. They Pentagon confirming late this week that several hundred Marines have been deployed just outside the northern city of Raqqa where they will support Syrian forces as they try to retake that ISIS stronghold. This, as 2500 U.S. troops are reportedly being sent to Kuwait to serve as backup for coalition forces who are fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Retired four-star Army General Jack Keane is the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War and a Fox News military analyst.
General Keane, first of all, what is the mission there, the military mission?
GEN. JACK KEANE, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST & CHAIRMAN, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: First, the president assigned a mission to the Pentagon, to Secretary Mattis, and that is to defeat ISIS and destroy it. That means not just taking the territory back that ISIS has claimed in Iraq, which is going to be completed in the next few months, and then in Syria, essentially around Raqqa, but also to take their finances away, to take their support system away, to take their virtual caliphate, their Internet operations away, to undermine their ideology, and to help defeat them in the 30-plus countries they have moved into. David, this is the first time since ISIS invaded Iraq that the Pentagon has ever been asked to put together a campaign plan to defeat ISIS.
ASMAN: A lot of families, including mine, are wondering about how many Marines are going to be there eventually, going to be deployed there. If we succeed in kicking ISIS out of the town, Raqqa, their stronghold, do we occupy? Does that increase our commitment there or what?
KEANE: That's a great question. And what is the end state? We have the capability to defeat any enemy that's holding onto territory. The United States of America and the United States military will do that in conjunction with our allies on the ground. But the United States is not going to occupy portions of Syria. We may maintain a base there but we need Syrian Arabs to occupy their own territory. And that's part of the challenge that we are facing here.
ASMAN: And that gets us to the question of who is our ally there. No matter who we choose, we're going to tick off someone else. If we ally with the Kurds, and they're good fighters, we all know that, that is going to mess up the Turks. The Turks hate the Kurds because they are historical enemies. If we go with the Russians and the Syrians, a lot of people here are going to like that in Congress. And if we go with the Sunni rebels that the Russians have been attacking, that puts us in danger of hitting the Russians. Our alliance is a very tricky thing here.
KEANE: You've probably put your finger on the biggest challenge we're facing. The military campaign is one thing. We certainly have, as I mentioned, the capability to deal with that. The political end state, which is what you are describing, is quite another thing. It is the most challenging aspect of all of this. We are currently aligned with the Syrian Kurds, the so-called YPG. The reality is, the YPG is affiliated with other Kurds who are trying to overthrow the Turkish government. So Turkey has been attacking the very forces that our Special Operations forces are aiding and abetting.
KEANE: That is how complicated this is. The other thing is, if we use them Syrian Kurds to take over Raqqa, Raqqa is actually Arab territory, and the people there do not want any part of the Kurds occupying their territory. So we have to -- the United States is going to have to be very careful as we deal not just with the military campaign but how we shape the end state. We cannot ignore our allies here. We cannot ignore the Sunni Arabs in the region and we certainly cannot ignore Turkey either.
KEANE: We should not, and I say again, not work with the Russians to deal with Syria.
ASMAN: That's what we don't do. I don't mean to put you on the sport, General, but what should we do? Who do you think we should be in alliance with?
KEANE: I think we should work with the Turks and the Sunni Arabs in the region, and also some of our own forces take Raqqa down. Leave the Sunni Arabs in the region to occupy, pull ourselves out and pull the Turks out. I think that is the best solution.
ASMAN: If I would think of a worst-case scenario, if you do that alliance, as you suggest, perhaps while the Russians are on some operation trying to hit our Sunni allies, we might inadvertently hit the Russians. I mean we could be a very dangerous situation, right?
KEANE: We know where they are and what they're doing. And we can de- conflict our operations from them. They don't want to be within any conflict with us. And we don't want to be in conflict with them. We can avoid it.
ASMAN: And, General, it sounds, in the end, like you do have confidence in the current military apparatus and their ability to deal with this.
KEANE: Yeah, absolutely. After the president-elect, November 8, they recognized there was going to be a new strategy. They began working on it then. They put two months of effort into it, the chairman and the Joint Chiefs. I'm talking about the four service chiefs and the chairmen themselves working with their staff. They put a tremendous effort into it. The president has been briefed on multiple options. He will select what he wants to do, and he wants to be decisive, he wants have a sense of urgency, and he wants it to end.
General Jack Keane, quite a dilemma but it sounds like we have it in hand.
I appreciate it, General. Thank you.
KEANE: Yeah, great talking to you, Dave.
ASMAN: Great talking to you.
Still ahead, challenges are already mounting to President Trump's revised Mideast immigration order. So will it overcome the legal hurdles this time around?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: With this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep his people safe. While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorist from entering our countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. President Trump signed a revised version of his immigration executive order this week, one his administration vows will hold up in court. The new order bars nationals from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from traveling to the U.S. for 90 days but removes Iraq from that list. The revised order explicitly exempts foreigners who already have visas. And it will no longer indefinitely block Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S. It also drops the provision that would have made the process easier for Christian refugees explicitly.
The Trump administration says the changes address the concerns that led a federal judge to block the first order. But the legal fight is far from over, with at least six states already saying they'll challenge the administration in court.
We're back with Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, Joe Rago and Bill McGurn.
So, Dan, will this version get through the courts?
HENNINGER: I think it most likely will get through the courts, because just as you described, they had addressed the issues that were raised in these lawsuits. I think what is going on out by these attorneys general in Democratic states is a crudely political exercise to simply thwart the executive order on the travel ban, no matter what.
But let's make it clear. The war on terror is not going to be won or lost at JFK airport, right? It's going to be won or loss at the places Jack Keane, General Keane was just talking about, Raqqa, Mosul, Yemen, the Middle East. We just heard that the United States has a plan to do that. The idea that the Democrats are now going to try to shut down one piece of that after the administration has addressed their objections turns it into a political circus.
ASMAN: Kimberly, to Dan's point, the state attorney general for the state of Washington, Bob Ferguson, has said there is no difference between this new order and the old order. So I'm just wondering if the state's attorneys general are saying this, maybe the Ninth Circuit Court will as well.
STRASSEL: It will be very brazen if that's what that Ninth Circuit Court does. This order is much more competent. It has the rational for the six countries that are there. It actually walks through the legal foundation on which President Trump has the ability to do this, which he very clearly does. The 1952 Immigration Act gives sweeping powers to block any person or class of persons that he deems could be a potential threat to the United States and its security. They will probably still argue that this is a Muslim ban. Given a lot of the changes in that rule and the number of Muslim countries that are not subject to this rule, I think this will be a very hard case to make on legal grounds.
Now, the Ninth Circuit could try it. It's a very liberal court. But if it goes up the chain, especially if Neil Gorsuch get confirmed, to the Supreme Court, I don't think this has a leg to stand on.
ASMAN: Joe, dealing with the Ninth Circuit, what amazed a lot of people was how they didn't even deal with the law. It kind of made stuff up that wasn't in the law, focusing on some details, even focusing on certain things that were not true, like there's nobody from these countries that have ever been arrested for terrorism, which, in fact, there have been. I'm just wondering if this Ninth Circuit isn't as politically inclined as the attorneys general who oppose it.
RAGO: It was a very perfunctory ruling that did not really address the merits of the case.
I tend to think the travel ban is unwise because it's turning into a fight that's between the executive branch and the judiciary. The executive branch has a lot of power here, but kind of willful judges are intruding on the president's core foreign-policy --
ASMAN: They're making stuff up.
RAGO: I know.
ASMAN: More than intruding, they're making stuff up.
RAGO: It is a very dangerous situation and it probably is a confrontation this is not worth having.
ASMAN: Bill, I don't mean sandbag but I want to switch to a little bit but stay on immigration. There was a huge drop, a 40 percent drop in immigration from the south. From Mexico, a drop in illegal immigration from Mexico. Is this proof that Trumps hardline is paying off?
MCGURN: I think we have to wait and see for that. There's been --
ASMAN: They are taking credit for it.
MCGURN: There have been drops before because of the economy. One of the ironies is that when the economy is doing bad, people are the most anti- immigrant, that's when immigrants stop coming. And when the economy is doing well and we have a demand for labor, they come more. So I think it is too early to tell.
On the Trump approach, I think a good principle of government is that is, if it's not necessary to do or say something, it's necessary not to say or do it. I think the Trump administration learned the hard way with its first executive order and has revised it. It be nice if the courts do the same thing. This is not just a matter of a policy disagreement. As Joe suggested, we are getting close to a constitutional confrontation. And if one side is just going to politicize it, it's going to be an ugly ending no matter where we go.
ASMAN: Very quickly, Dan, if it does go to the Supreme Court, that can be quite a while before it's actually implemented. I'm just wondering if it will defeat the purpose. Remember, there was all this talk about timing when the first order came out. If we have to wait another three or four months, maybe a lot of bad people will get into the country.
HENNINGER: Well, I think, as Kim was pointing out, it would be a very brazen thing for them for the Ninth Circuit to do that, especially to issue an injunction against the entire order. There might be one piece of it that they would pull out. But I think the order is going to go forward the 90 days. It's only a 90-day period in which these people are going to be banned from the U.S. And if it got to the Supreme Court, after Gorsuch got approved, I think the president's authority would be upheld.
ASMAN: Very good.
Still ahead, Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor to look at Russia's role in the 2016 election, but is an outside investigation really the way to go? Our panel debating that, coming next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: I believe we need an independent criminal investigation into Russians influence. It's vitally important that the American people have trust in this investigation and that there's not even the appearance of a conflict of interest or political influence. So that is why I continue to support the appointment of a special prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and questions about Russia's ties to President Trump's campaign. And his claim that former President Obama wiretapped his New York offices turned Tuesday's confirmation hearing for deputy attorney general nominee, Rod Rosenstein, into a contentious partisan battle. The Democrats calling on Rosenstein to commit to an outside investigation.
Kimberly, let's talk about a special prosecutor. The only Republican to event hint that it might be necessary was Darrell Issa, and he quickly rolled that back once he realized that he put his foot in it. Any other Republican come out for a special prosecutor?
STRASSEL: No, because it's an absolutely atrocious idea. Here's why. Special prosecutors exist to prosecute. They go in and they begin an investigation and their goal is to find some sort of criminal wrongdoing, not necessarily to expose what has happened. And they go down rabbit holes. And also, look, the goal of this ought to be transparency, to come clean to the American people about what actually happened over the last six months, both to do with Russian interference, but also President Obama's role, if any, and his intelligence agencies looking into this, how the investigation has been conducted, and get that out into the people as quickly as possible. That will never happen under a special prosecutor.
ASMAN: Bill, I just wonder with whom the Democrats called for one is going to resonate. They've kind of backed themselves in the corner, not only with Republicans and the Trump administration but with the public in terms of screaming about everything. If you scream about everything, you can't sell anything, right, because people think it's -- you're just going to scream no matter what happens.
MCGURN: It's not resonating with me. I had two "S" words that I object to.
MCGURN: One is "Schumer" and the other is "special."
MCGURN: Chuck Schumer proposing a special prosecutor, you really wonder.
Look, we do need investigations of things, but one of the problems of the last few decades is that we've got away from regular process and how Congress works and how the White House works, and we need to get back. We have a good constitutional system. We have the means. Congress has the means to investigate these things. And instead of looking for these short- circuit ways to go like a special prosecutor, we need to get back to regular order and do these things through the process laid out in our Constitution, which works pretty well.
ASMAN: Joe, there does seem to be a kind of cordial relationship between the House Intel Committee, which is going to investigate some of this, between the Republicans and the Democrats. So it is possible for a bipartisan committee to get some work done on this, right?
RAGO: It's probably the last bipartisan committee left in Congress.
ASMAN: I think you're right.
RAGO: I'm just wondering what Democrats are hoping to find here. We know Russia interfered in the election by hacking the e-mails of John Podesta and the DNC, but that's it. Vladimir Putin didn't force Hillary Clinton not to campaign in Wisconsin.
RAGO: So it seems to be more of a coping mechanism then a serious inquiry.
ASMAN: But, Dan, we know what the golden ring is. The Democrats want to find some, for them, proof that there was collusion between the Russians and the Trump administration. All the intel people, by the way, including ones appointed by Democrats, say there is none. There is no evidence of that.
HENINGER: Not only that, David, but all of these media reports always have a paragraph in there saying nothing is known for sure. The Democrats want the special prosecutor to investigate the Trump presidency all the way between now and the Midterm election so this anvil is hanging over it.
But, look, Barack Obama released an executive order which allowed all 17 investigative agencies to have what the NSA had found. If they haven't found anything so far, the special prosecutor hasn't found anything. I think the resolution to this, they've got something obviously that was released. That should be put on the desk of the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. He should look at it and make some determination. Either there is no "there" there, or some part of it needs to be investigated.
ASMAN: Kimberly, there is -- a special prosecutor very often goes on this fishing expeditions and turns up stuff that maybe wasn't the original purpose of the investigation. I think that's also why Democrats want to have it, right?
STRASSEL: Exactly what Dan just said. They want a special prosecutor who is going to investigate Trump for the next two years begin by looking into these Russia allegations but then follow this down any rabbit hole that exists and find any little tiny slip up here or there, if there is one, blow into something and give them grounds for impeachment. The Russians would be mad to allow -- I'm sorry. The Republicans would be made to allow this to happen. Lots of Russians going on.
ASMAN: I know. Democrats are going to look at you, Kimberly, and say, oh, there was a Freudian slip. There's the key.
All right, thank you very much.
Last word from Kimberly.
When we come back, the Trump administration says all options are on the table following North Korea's latest ballistic missile test.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: They said that their goal is to be able to reach the United States and Japan. This is not something we can take lightly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: We are stepping back, and sense these multiple launches, reevaluating what the U.S.'s approach is going to be. I can tell you we are not ruling anything out and we are considering every option that's on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASMAN: U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, warning that nothing is off the table when it comes to the Trump administration's response to North Korea after that country test fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday. Dictator Kim Jong-Un announced in January that his regime is in the, quote, "final stage in developing a nuclear-capable missile that could reach parts of the United States."
Joining me now from Toronto is Gordon Chang. He's the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."
So, Gordon, let's go right to your book's title, "Nuclear Showdown." What would a nuclear showdown with North Korea look like?
GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, COMMENTATOR & AUTHUR: It would be extremely ugly. North Korea has somewhere between 16 and 20 warheads. And also, we have to remember that North Korea has a formal military ally, China. Last time there was a general war on the Korean Peninsula, China came in on North Korea's side, and it could very well do so this time as well, because China leader, Xi Jinping, considers the U.S. as China's strategic adversary.
ASMAN: OK. We'll talk more about China in a moment, but specifically on a nuclear showdown, they claim that their missiles are going to be nuclear capable soon. Do you believe them?
CHANG: Yes. They already have three missiles that can probably hit the lower 48 states. The Typonon 2 (ph), KNOA (ph) and the KN14 (ph). They haven't been adequately tested but they are based on proven technologies. Within four years, maybe five at the outside, they'll be able to mate a warhead to those long-raise launchers and they will be able to hold us at ransom.
ASMAN: What about our anti-missile capability? Could we shot them down before they get here?
CHANG: We have interceptors in both Alaska and California but they're rudimentary. They have about a 56 percent failure rate under perfect conditions. The answer is that probably North Korea will be able to land a nuke in the United States if it chooses to do so.
ASMAN: Here's the big question: What do we do? We're not going to wait until they have that capability and put the nuke on a missile. We're going to take them out or take out their capability before that happens. Can we? And how could we?
CHANG: We could do that because we have conventional capabilities. We have a nuclear arsenal that is quite large. But we're going to do that because any sort of military action risks a general conventional war on the Korean Peninsula. We have to remember that about half of South Korea's 50 million people are in the Seoul area, about 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas. So the military option is absolutely the last thing.
There are number of things that we can do, David. We tried almost every approach over the last two decades and they failed. The one thing we haven't tried is to impose costs on China for its support for North Korea's ballistic missile program, nuclear weapons program and other illicit commerce.
ASMAN: But you are hearing more stories that China -- even though China is so key for North Korea, they're losing some of their influence with North Korea, and North Korea is going rogue. Is that true?
CHANG: To a certain extent, but we have to remember that China supports North Korea, not because the North Koreans are friendly but because the North Koreans accomplished some very important strategic objectives for China in the short term, of keeping us off balance and giving us an incentive to cooperate with China on other things. So although the relations are indeed much strained than they have been in previous years, I'm not so sure China's going to cut off its support for North Korea.
ASMAN: Now there is another element here that just happened this week that complicates things. The South Korean president was kicked out of office. She was involved in some corruption, they had an impeachment, and they got rid of her. How does that complicate the whole scenario?
CHANG: There has to be an election within 60 days, probably May 9th. And the polls show the so-called progressives, or the leftists, are going to win, and that could change every calculus in north Asia and shift the balance of power in favor of North Korea and China.
But we have to remember that the South Korean electorate is very volatile. They can change their minds on basically a dime. That happened in 2002. I think we very well may see. Because Kim Jong-Un and China may create provocations that change the views of the South Korean electorate at the last moment.
ASMAN: Would that change our military or potential military approach? I understand that Seoul, the capitol of South Korea, is right next to the DMZ, the border with North Korea, but we can -- China doesn't have sufficient influence to stop them from using one of these nukes. And it may not just be on a missile, by the way. They may sell it to a terrorist group or something like that as well.
CHANG: Well, clearly. Or they could smuggle one in, assemble in New York City, and set it off. Or they could put it on a cargo ship. There's so many ways North Korea can deliver a nuclear weapon to the American homeland. But with Seoul, if it changes sides -- and it could very well do so -- that really restricts what we can do on the Korean Peninsula, both from a diplomatic point of view and from a military one as well.
ASMAN: A lot of danger there.
Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."
Thank you very much, Gordon. Good to see you. Good to have you on.
We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits & Misses" of the week.
ASMAN: Time now for our "Hits & Misses" of the week.
Kim, first to you.
STRASSEL: So, David, as we get closer to two time-honored traditions, Tax Day and spring break, here's a myth that unites them both. A recent survey by a group called LENDEDU found that almost one-third of college students are intending to use their student loan money to pay for their spring breaks. And since you, the taxpayer, federally subsidize that loan, it means you are paying for a lot of tequila and beach time.
ASMAN: Oh, my gosh.
STRASSEL: And why wouldn't they do this, by the way, because another survey from the same group found that nearly half of them believe their federal debt will be taken away and forgiven.
ASMAN: That's right. It's free. It's free.
STRASSEL: Yeah, it's free.
ASMAN: Bill, because we can't get enough of these wacky college students, you've got another thing from the college students?
MCGURN: Yeah, double myths this week. Remember those protesters at Middlebury College trying to shutdown Libertarian scholar, Charles Murray? Many of the headlines, including one over the Associated Press stories, basically identified him as a white nationalist. The accusation comes courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-leaning organization, that exists I think primarily to smear people that it disagrees with as racists and extremists. So a miss not only to the Southern Poverty Law Center but to the press that too uncritically takes their accusations.
ASMAN: Joe, you have a hit?
RAGO: Yeah. I did not think there was anything that could make me like Uber more but it turns out there is. This week, news emerged that the ride-hailing service systematically gray-balled local governments that were trying to preserve taxing monopolies in their city, feeding them fake apps, fake information --
RAGO: -- trying to overt stings. This is hit for creative destruction for innovation and consumers.
ASMAN: Undermining the regulators.
Dan, we need good news from overseas. We've had a lot scary stuff.
HENNINGER: In fact, I've got some, David. I'm giving a hit to Iraq and the army of Iraq, which, since last October, has been slugging it out with Islamic State to retake some of the biggest cities there, like Mosul, from Islamic State. Just this past week, they penetrated the west end of Mosul. They are succeeding. And this is an army that has been an object of mockery by the American left. I think they deserve credit for spending blood and treasure --
HENNINGER: -- to defend their own country.
ASMAN: Good stuff, guys.
That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel and to all of you for watching. I'm David Asman. You can catch me weekdays at "After the Bell" on the Fox Business Network. Paul is back next week. We hope to see you then.
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