TRANSCRIPT

Who is winning and losing the DC blame game?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OHIO: Remember our mission statement. We talk about the countless number of families who feel like this town has forgotten them.

REP. TED POE, R-TEXAS: I got the opinion that there are some members of the Freedom Caucus would vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think we've seen that and of health care. The further along we go, as premiums continued to go up, more and more people will be drawn into this discussion.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Next up we are going to get back to the president's three-part agenda -- jobs, jobs, and jobs.

REP. CHARLIE DENT, R-PAs: We need 60 votes in the Senate to do anything, including a bathroom break. I would recommend they pivot to infrastructure now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS: Oh, boy, let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, editor in chief of The Weekly Standard; Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Welcome to all of you. There is a lot going on in Washington. Steve, you heard a lot of different topics touched on there. I want to bring up something that was a tweet from the president this weekend. This was from the @realDonaldTrump account. "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage have saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare." Now, if they're going to get to the rest of this agenda and all the other things they have to do, they've got to kiss and make up at some point.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, and what we've seen in fits and starts from virtually everybody involved is taking shots at one another and then making up or trying to make nice, a lot of that taking place behind the scenes. If you are looking for who to blame on what happened, the answer is everyone. The answer is president. The answer is the House leadership. The answer is the Freedom Caucus. I happen to be very sympathetic to the substantive argument that the Freedom Caucus made and I share their disappointment that the original bill wasn't more free market and didn't push more aggressively toward the kind of real reforms I think that we need in our health care system. But it's certainly the case that if Republicans don't, A, decide to make up and work together, and, B, get health care back on the agenda, it will be a broken promise from Republicans of historic proportions.

BREAM: And Chuck, Sean Spicer among many others, Reince Priebus and others, have said it's not gone away. There are a number of the members of the Freedom Caucus, too, saying this health care fight is not over. It's going to come back at some point. But they are barreling forward with other things like tax reform that they want to get done as well. Where do you think health care re-bubbles to the surface, or does it?

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: I thought Paul Ryan just said it's here for the foreseeable future. So once again it's not even clear that everybody has the same sense of reality in this party. I don't think there's ever been a time in our history where there's been one party that was simultaneously totally dominant in American politics and totally incoherent within itself.

And no, I don't expect -- maybe there is some talk about revisiting health care and this and that. I don't really expect it. I think, maybe wrongly, but I think rightly I expect them to pivot to tax reform and try and make a run at that. And when they do, they're going to have to be much more deliberate and much more careful about before they launch some bill, make sure they've got everybody on side. The problem, of course, is the Freedom Caucus, as Mr. Poe said, they might vote against anything, even the Ten Commandments.

BREAM: And that's why, Mollie, I want to play a little bit from the chair of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, who was talking this weekend about the idea of tax reform because a lot people think there are going to be hardliners and it's going to be tough to get them on board. But here's what he said about making this revenue neutral or not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: Tax reform and lowering taxes will create and generate more income. And so we're looking at where the fine balance is. But does it have to be fully offset? My personal responses is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: He's not speaking for the caucus there, but he sounds like they are not going to be line drawn in the sand and that's it, we're not coming across.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Well, it is interesting. They said the whole reason you had to do health care originally was so that you would get these budget savings that you could then apply to tax reform. And now they are just going ahead with tax reform. To be fair, you can work it either way. And there are so many gains to be made through tax reform that maybe he just wants to focus on that.

Having said that, you know, there really is an issue of health reform needs to happen. They might say they are done with health care reform, insurance reform, but it's certainly not done with them. And this legislation really is a failure and insurance companies will continue to leave and millions of people will continue to suffer. So whether or not they want to be done with it, it has to be dealt with.

BREAM: Charles, how do you see that playing out in 2018, this inability of the GOP controlling the White House, Senate, and House, and promising for seven years and running against this on a repeal, you know, if they don't do anything beyond what happened on Friday, what happens when 2018 roll around, and if, by their predictions, the system under Obamacare is that much worse and Americans are in even worse shape?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it's ruinous. It's not just a promise betrayed. It is a complete inability to govern, particularly when you've been arguing for something for seven years. It arrives and you are then unprepared.

So that's why I think it has to come back. I think the time it comes back is in the fall when you get the new numbers, the new premiums coming out. They're going to be much higher. There are going to be fewer choices. Far more insurers are going to be withdrawing from the exchanges, and they are going to be in a state of collapse.

At that point, I think there will be an opportunity. And I think what they have to do -- here's the irony. I think among the Republicans in the house, including the Freedom Caucus, there would have been a general consensus on what we want to do, but the leadership decided to tailor the legislation to fit the niceties of the reconciliation rules in the Senate. That makes no sense at all. Put everything in the bill, including what is called the phase three stuff that was supposed to come later, the stuff the conservatives want, that everybody really want, including tort reform, including stripping out the coverage requirements, which are largely irrational, put all that in the bill. And if it turns out that in the Senate needs 60, well, it will be the Democrats who have to filibuster and let the country watch them deny them a reform of a collapsing system. That seems to be the logical way to go. You may have to wait until the fall, but that's what they ought to do.

BREAM: I want to make sure we touch on the issue with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes as well with the revelation today that he apparently went to the White House to see whatever the sourcing was from the documents that he is referencing. I want to play a little bit of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER: His actions look like those of someone who was interested in protecting the president and his party, and that doesn't work when the goal of the committee is to investigate Russia and its connection to the president and his campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: Here is a bit of what the spokesperson for Chairman Nunes said. He said "He met with the source on the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source. Because of classification rules the course sores could not simply put the documents in a backpack, walk them over to the House Intelligence Committee. The White House grounds are the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of those documents so the chairman could view them in a legal way." Mollie?

HEMINGWAY: Exactly. Representative Nunes explained that there was no place on Capitol Hill where he can view the documents. He had to view in an executive branch computer. It sounds like he has a whistleblower who is actually trying to follow through what the proper rules are for getting this information.

The other interesting thing that Nunes said today is that this information wasn't just widely disseminated to intelligent agencies but back to the Obama White House. If that's true, we have further evidence that we have the makings of a big scandal, one that needs investigation, not just the probe with Russia but how much the Obama administration was surveilling and his associates.

BREAM: Chuck, you know that the Democrats are going to make hay of this and point to, hey, it's coming from inside the White House, what Washington it, who was seeing? Already they are really tackling the PR side of this.

LANE: Let us assume that Devin Nunes had to look at these at the White House, the only secure place. The problem is still that once he got this information, his first move was to tell the president, was go to the White House and talk about it with Donald Trump as opposed to, I don't know, the members of his committee.

HEMINGWAY: First he told the press. He told the American people.

LANE: Take your pick. He's supposedly running a serious investigation intelligence matter, and I think the damage -- you read the talk like it was the only proper place, it was just damage control, and the damage is significant.

HAYES: Nunes has a reputation, a well-deserved reputation of being a dog with a bone on intelligence issues. And in a couple previous issues it's worked the advantage I think of the country. He's exposed things on Benghazi we never would've seen but for his work. The same is true with the Usama bin Laden documents. The question here is, what are the documents? What does he have? I just don't think we know enough about what he has to draw any firm conclusions about whether it is or is not, whether this is the scandal that Mollie suggests it is or whether it's the scandal that Democrats suggest it is. I think we need to learn a lot more before we can draw some conclusions.

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