This is a rush transcript from "The First 100 Days," April 4, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS HOST: Breaking tonight, President Obama's top security official, Susan Rice, breaks her silence on her role in unmasking American citizens, as she faces increasing calls from lawmakers to testify in an open-congressional hearing.
I'm Dana Perino in for Martha MacCallum. This is day 75 of "The First 100 Days."
Susan Rice is now facing her own big reveal after two days of reports confirm she was the Obama era official who ordered raw intelligence to name names. Now, Ms. Rice is denying she ever leaked those names, but argues that the process of unmasking was well within her purview as the national security advisor.
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SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: I received those reports as did each of those other officials. And there were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.
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PERINO: Those words standing in opposition to her answer on the unmasking issue just two weeks ago after House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes announced that Trump transition team members had been exposed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count. I really don't know to what Chairman Nunes was referring, but he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal, lawful surveillance, and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Charles Krauthammer is here to weigh in on tonight's developments in just moments. But first, we turn to Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge with the latest tonight from Washington. Catherine?
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, Rice says it's about security and not politics. But today, she offered no national security explanation for identifying at least one member of the Trump team and a Republican lawmaker said late today that if a connection can be drawn between Rice, the unmasking, and the leaks, President Obama's National Security Advisor could be in a world of trouble.
A former senior intelligence official confirmed to Fox News that only the person who asked for an American to be identified gets the information. And Rice will be well aware that there is a comprehensive government paper trail showing who made the request and on what basis. A government source tells Fox News that this story may go well beyond Rice, claiming former Presidential aide Ben Rhodes and former CIA Director John Brennan also had access to the unmasked intelligence. The House Speaker said today that he stands behind the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes who first alerted the White House and briefed the President before Democrats about the intelligence report that did not relate to Russia.
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REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Chairman Nunes has my confidence. I've met with the committee. They have my confidence. This is what's important is that this committee does its investigation, on a bipartisan basis, to get to the bottom of things and go investigate all things Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERRIDGE: The House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat issued this statement, not commenting on the contents of the intelligence reports, but emphasizing that unmasking in his experience is not unusual. Dana?
PERINO: Well, one thing that is a little unusual in my experience, at least, is that the National Security Advisor is usually somebody that you never hear about. But in the last two administrations, first with secretary -- I'm sorry, Ambassador Rice, and then you had Mike Flynn, they are well-known figures in this. How unusual is that in Washington?
HERRIDGE: Well, I think if you point to the issue of Susan Rice, what you see is that she took on a very public role off and on very politically charged issues. She was the person who was forward-leaning and on all the national T.V. broadcasts with the administration's explanation about what happened in the Benghazi terrorist attack, which turned out to be very flawed, largely through the reporting of Fox News. And then, she also went on television to take on the swap of Bowe Bergdahl for the Taliban Five, and she said Bowe Bergdahl had served with honor and distinction and that was proven to be false as well.
So, Susan Rice took on a very public role and she also took on issues that were highly, politically charged. And we also saw that with other former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. So, you're right, this really is a sea change in terms of this position which has largely been operating in the shadows.
PERINO: Yes. And I noticed that the new NSA Director Mr. General McMaster is way low behind the scenes. My last question to you, a couple of weeks ago I asked you, how is Washington defining expeditiously when it talks about finishing these investigations? Do you have any more clarity on that tonight?
HERRIDGE: I still think that we're looking at least a year to 18 month before there's any resolution. And I also believe that it will be highly unlikely that we'll see a bipartisan report or final report. There'll be a dissenting view on the house side. There may be some agreement on the senate side. But the more we kind of pick at the scab of this story, for a lack of a better phrase, I think the more difficult it will be to reach consensus.
PERINO: All right, thank you, Catherine.
HERRIDGE: You're welcome.
PERINO: Joining me now for his thoughts Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a nationally syndicated columnist and, of course, a Fox News contributor. Charles, what did you make of the developments today? Last week, we had the news that Michael Flynn would be offering to testify in exchange for immunity. That got wall-to-wall media coverage. This is actually very significant development, sort of downplayed in some quarters. What did you make of it?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you're right about the downplay. The networks have essentially ignored it. I think in the New York Times, it appeared on page a-16. And the reason is they're not interested, the mainstream media, and the Democrats. That's sort of redundant. I'm not interested in this line of inquiry. They only want to talk about the collusion story which is a legitimate story or allegations.
Although, there has been no evidence to-date. They are not interested in this story about the improper use of intelligence, which is equally important. It's worth investigating. I think the problem for Rice is, number one, that she appears to be totally contradicting herself when she said a couple weeks ago "I know nothing about this." It appears to be an outright lie and contradiction. I suspect she'll wiggle around it by being ambiguous about the word -- what the word this was, very Clintonian. It depends what is is. So, on that, she can probably escape. But the other issue is, why was she asking and what possible national security interest did she have in uncovering whatever names she uncovered, unmasked?
And I think until we have answers to that, we're not going to know the extent of this impropriety. If it was for national security reasons? Possible. I don't quite see how that would be. Then, this is perfectly legitimate, but she is not an investigator, she's a political operative. She works on behalf of the President. And if it can be shown that this was a political fishing expedition, then she is in a world of hurt.
PERINO: The way we've seen this story unfold is that every day, you know, if you're on one side of this or the other, on any given day, you can feel like your side is winning. But what is the national toll on the psyche of the American people that - or really want to see some things get done or maybe if you're in the resist movement, you want to see some things get blocked, but if this is the thing we're talking about, and Catherine just said, we're looking at another year to 18 months of this. What does that do to the American people's trust in the system?
KRAUTHAMMER : I think that's one of the casualties. The other casualty is it's not just what's happening in Congress, what may or may not get passed. The world around us is in deep trouble. We've got craziness in North Korea; we've got the Chinese sort of on the march in the South China Sea; the Russians are on the march all the time; we have these atrocities in Syria; and, yet, we seem to be now accommodating ourselves to the regime that just committed the atrocity. And, of course, we have Iran extending its influence all throughout the Middle East.
The world is on fire. And we are chasing rabbit holes here. I'm not sure if we're ever going to find anything of importance on the collusion issue. Yes, of course, the Russians intervened but on collusion, what's the evidence? And what exactly would it mean for there to have been collusion? And as to the impropriety of the releases, I suspect we will find one or two instances. I suspect also -- this is just a guess since we really don't know, but the idea of a vast conspiracy is pretty unlikely. You and I have been here for many, many years, and I always assume that it's incompetence and not conspiracy because if you believe in conspiracy, you're giving these guys too much credit. They couldn't organize a two-car funeral. So, I'm -
PERINO: I have to say but they used to accuse President Bush of all sorts of things. I thought they gave us way too much credit for thinking of that.
KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. Anybody who's been on the inside knows that conspiracies are extremely rare and very difficult to pull off.
PERINO: Thank you, Dr. Krauthammer, I appreciate it.
KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.
PERINO: All right. Susan Rice also told Andrea Mitchell earlier today that there was nothing political in her unmasking. The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues differently stating there is "no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity." Mike Doran is the former director for the NSC under George W. Bush and Julia Roginsky, a Democratic analyst and Fox News Contributor. Michael, let me start with you because you wrote about the firewall, and that it had been breached. What do you mean by that?
MICHAEL DORAN, FORMER NSC DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE BUSH: I mean that there's a firewall between national security information and particularly information collected on American citizens and our domestic political processes. And information that comes into the White House about American citizens isn't supposed to be used politically. And Susan Rice said it wasn't, but we know that that's not true. And we know it's not true because of the leak about Michael Flynn to David Ignatius of The Washington Post on January 12th. Somebody in the White House or a senior administration official, according to Ignatius told him about those conversations with Kislyak and a senior official wrapped it up in a lie. They said that this was part of this collusion - of this collusion thesis. That is a patently political motive for that leak.
PERINO: What about today, Julie, when Susan Rice speaks to Andrea Mitchell at MSNBC, and she's saying, "Well, look, this was well within my job." But, yet, just two weeks ago, she said she didn't know anything about the unmasking. How does she square that circle?
JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it could be potentially part of her job, Dana, if, in fact, we have one administration at a time, you know this, you worked in one. And even during a transition period, if somebody is undermining the existing foreign policy, especially on, for example, sanctions, in the Obama administration as they did place sanctions on the Russians, and then somebody was speaking to the Russians from the Trump transition about don't worry about it, once we're in, we're going to address those sanctions, we're going to make sure that they're not in place or in some other way, that becomes problematic because, as you know, we have one foreign policy at a time, regardless of who wins an election until January 20th. So, that could be one reason.
But, you know, to me, this was such a diversionary tactic because you had the President of the United States, Donald Trump, going out and accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping him. And now it seems like everybody is running around trying to fit that theory, trying to fit that square peg into a round hole. He victimized Barack Obama by saying this, now for some reason, we're trying to make him the victim, where, in fact, he said something that was completely disproven and has never been backed up by anybody.
PERINO: Michael, let me ask you about that. Because, actually, if not for that tweet by President Trump that one Saturday morning that we all remember so well, might we have ever learned any of this?
DORAN: Well, I think when it's all done, we're going to look back and we're going to say that tweet really changed the narrative and changed the direction. Although, we did spend a couple of weeks after it, you know, thinking about Tom Cruise falling from or being suspended from ceilings with microphones. But -- and that's not what it is. It really is, I think, the focus is going to be much more on this question of incidental collection and how it was used. I was really struck by Catherine Herridge's report when she said that Ben Rhodes is one of the people that was - that had access to this information.
I mean, you, as a White House communicator, you know, why do you need to know what American officials are showing up in -- I mean, Ben Rhodes, who is the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication. His job is to talk to the American people. Why does he need to know what Americans are showing up in this intelligence?
PERINO: And Julie, do you think that we'll hear from anybody else? You know, Susan Rice spoke today. Now, we have actually the Senate and House Intel Committees both saying that they like to have her come up and talk to them. Will we hear from anybody else? The final word.
ROGINSKY: Look, I've said for a very long time we need an independent probe into this. I think Charles Krauthammer is absolutely right, it's gotten way too toxic. And I think we need to get a respected bipartisan coalition of people whoever they may be. I don't know who they may be. Maybe Tom Kaine and Lee Hamilton, again, whoever people who made it to the 9/11 commission to get to the bottom of this. I think we're all -- Republicans and Democrats, need to know exactly what went on with respect to Russia, maybe nothing, maybe something did, but I think it's time that we get to the bottom of it and leave politics out of it. It's too important. Charles is right, the world is on fire, we need to focus and we need to make sure that the Russians are not going to continue this pattern either with us or our allies going forward.
PERINO: All right. Michael, Julie, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
ROGINSKY: Thank you.
PERINO: Up next, you won't see the Susan Rice developments anywhere else as some in the media have dismissed the developments as a distraction and a diversion, even a fake scandal. Mollie Hemingway and Robert Zimmerman debate straight ahead. Plus, Trump's Department of Justice making move tonight to halt some the police reforms sought by the Obama administration. We will fill you in on those details coming up. And breaking just moments ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lit the first fuse towards enacting the "nuclear option". He is here exclusively on his fight to get Gorsuch on the bench.
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SEN. MITCH MOCCONNELL, R-KY, MAJORITY LEADER: It appears as if this closure will not be invoked but we'll find out on Thursday. But either way, we'll be moving towards confirming Judge Gorsuch on Friday.
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PERINO: Breaking tonight, as we learn new revelations about the Susan Rice unmasking story, some in the media seem to lack the basic journalistic curiosity about the more troubling aspects revealed in the reporting. Here is how one network decided to cover the news.
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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This appears to be a story largely ginned up partly as a distraction from this larger investigation.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: On this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN NEW DAY HOST: President Trump wants you to believe he is the victim of a crooked scheme. Those are his words. And here are our words, "There is no evidence of any wrongdoing."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Mollie Hemingway, a Senior Editor at the Federalist; and Robert Zimmerman is a DNC Committee member and Democratic strategist. Let me ask you something, Robert, do you think that last week when Michael Flynn's lawyer revealed that Michael Flynn was willing to testify in exchange for immunity that that was a significant news development that warranted the coverage that it got?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Of course, it did. I mean, after all, General Flynn was saying just a few months ago anyone who requests immunity is obviously guilty as did President Trump. So clearly it showed his hypocrisy.
PERINO: OK. So, do you think that this story is worth covering about this revelation that Susan Rice who two weeks ago said she did not have any knowledge of this and then now she is confirming that, in fact, oh, yes, of course, it was in her purview in order to do this, is that not news?
ZIMMERMAN: Well, I have to - well, it's news because, Dana, that's not what she said. She said she had no knowledge of Chairman Nunes' commentary and his accusations. Let's remember Chairman Nunes himself has retracted his comments and in fact has apologized to his committee for his conduct.
PERINO: No, no, no. He apologized for not sharing it with them before he talked to the media.
ZIMMERMAN: But also retracted his claims that it was a whistleblower who gave him the information, when in fact it was the White House staff. The point is, she was being -
PERINO: I agree that that wasn't - that wasn't inartful.
ZIMMERMAN: Excuse me. Excuse me, Dana.
PERINO: But, Mollie, do you get my point? If I can just get Mollie in here.
ZIMMERMAN: She was - but Dana, did you get my point. She was commenting at Chairman Nunes' accusations.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: There is no question that this is an absolutely massive story that any decent journalist should be focused on and really getting to the bottom of. There are about hundreds, if not, thousands of questions about why Susan Rice unmasked this information. You know, when she was unmasking it, she would have been -
ZIMMERMAN: That's a false statement, Mollie.
HEMINGWAY: -- did she disseminate the information as well? Is there any tie between this and the -
PERINO: Oh, and she said no. She said that she did not -
ZIMMERMAN: But that's a false -- but that's fake news, Dana.
HEMINGWAY: I understand that - I understand that Susan Rice has said things and I also understand that she has a reputation for dishonesty and being careful with how she parses things.
ZIMMERMAN: But Mollie, that doesn't give you the right to recite fake news. Let's remember, Susan Rice did not -
PERINO: How is it fake?
ZIMMERMAN: Susan Rice cannot unmask anyone. The only -- she can request as other government officials can, but the only people -
HEWINGWAY: She requested the unmasking. That is in itself - requesting the unmasking in itself a very rare thing for someone in her position to do.
ZIMMERMAN: But let's get the story straight. The unmasking -
HEWINGWAY: The fact that it was not request -
PERINO: Robert, let her finish.
HEWINGWAY: The fact that the request did not happen from elsewhere from the places where investigations actually take place. The fact that the unmasked information dealt with politics and not active investigations; these are all questions that journalists should be getting to the bottom of before they decide not to cover the story. The media should be covering the story, not covering it up.
ZIMMERMAN: Mollie, your statement is false. Mollie, your statement is false on so many fronts. Let's first understand, Susan Rice's request is extremely routine as National Security Advisor. Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged that.
HEWINGWAY: It should be even more alarming if they were to say that -
ZIMMERMAN: Furthermore -- let me finish my point, Dana. Dana, may I finish my point?
PERINO: Of course. Mollie, let's let him finish.
ZIMMERMAN: Let me finish my point. So, first of all, her request by recording to Republicans and Democrats in the Congress is perfectly legal, it's perfectly routine. And the more important point is while she can request that the person be unmasked, it's up to the NSA Director or the FBI Director to grant that request. So, unless you want to argue there's a political conspiracy by our National Security -- administrator or our FBI Director and carry the lie further, let's understand this is nothing more than distracting from the fact that Donald Trump got caught in a lie, which Republicans and Democrats all agree, he's shown no evidence for when he claimed he was wiretapped at Trump Tower.
PERINO: All right. Let's get Mollie the last word before we have to go. Mollie, where do you think this goes?
HEMINGWAY: According to the media themselves, there has been a widespread leaking situation involving intelligence officials throughout the Obama administration. Learning that this goes as deep as the White House is something that should be interesting to journalists, not something to cover up.
ZIMMERMAN: But it should be - it should be created and manipulated. That's why hats off to Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon and Jim Sciutto for reporting actual, factual news.
PERINO: All right. I think that's why - that's why you were invited here so that we could talk about real news which we did. All right. Still ahead, the Trump administration working on their law and order agenda as Attorney General Sessions makes a controversial move on police reform. The details just ahead.
Plus, just breaking moments ago, the senate taking their first step towards going nuclear over the Gorsuch nomination. The man who has his finger on that button, so to speak, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He will join me in an exclusive, next.
PERINO: It was in November 2013 that Democrats in the senate, led by Harry Reid, forever changed the rules of the chamber by lowering the threshold for filibusters. Mr. Reid, at the time, dismissed questions about Republicans using similar tactics.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aren't you worried that Republicans will just get rid of the filibuster on the Supreme Court anyway?
FMR. SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEVADA: Let them do it. Why in the world would we care? We were trying to protect everybody. I mean, do they want simple majority? Fine. I know all these threats about "We're going to change the rules more." As Senator Schumer said "What is the choice? Continue like we are or have democracy?"
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PERINO: But now, that shoe is on the other foot. Senator Chuck Schumer and his members are crying foul at the very prospect that Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, will deploy the so-called "nuclear option" to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Joining me now, in an exclusive, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sir, I imagine that this is something that you did not necessarily want to do, but you are prepared to do because the groundwork for this has been laid years ago.
MCCONNELL: Yes, Dana. Interestingly enough, until Senator Schumer, now the Democratic leader of the senate, in effect, convinced everybody that filibuster is against executive branch appointments were OK. This is the way we did it. For 230 years, up or down, simple majority votes for Supreme Court, cabinet, everything, until Schumer invented it. So, it's a fairly recent thing to filibuster executive branch appointments. The Democrats got frustrated after they invented this and broke the rules of the senate, as you indicated four years ago to lower the threshold for everything, except the Supreme Court. All we'll do, faced with this filibuster is even that up so that The Supreme Court confirmation process is dealt with, just like it was throughout the history of the country down until Bush 43 got elected.
PERINO: So, Senator Schumer actually said on the floor of the senate today, that when it comes to what your part in this had been, is that what the majority leader did to Merrick Garland by denying him even a vote and a hearing is even worse than a filibuster. How do you respond to that? Because you made a tough decision in January of -- maybe it wasn't a tough decision, but it was a consequential decision in January of 2016 to not allow Merrick Garland a vote in that election year. Are they then surprised by the election result, so surprised that they are not able to actually revoke Gorsuch and getting his vote?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, Merrick Garland is not before the senate. But let's talk about that for a minute. Everybody knew that if there had been a Republican president and a Democratic senate, during the presidential election, they wouldn't have filled the vacancy either.
MCCONNELL: In fact -- in fact, Joe Biden, when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1992, a presidential election year, Republican president, Democratic senate, said that if a vacancy occurred, they wouldn't fill it. So, look, everybody knew that vacancy was not going to be filled in the middle of a presidential election year. But Merrick Garland was last year. This is about Neil Gorsuch. He is the one before the senate. This is the first year of a four-year term of a new president. We dealt with two Supreme Court nominees and Bill Clinton's first term, two Supreme Court nominees in Barack Obama's first term. My Party was in the minority both times. No filibusters. No filibusters, simple majority.
PERINO: Nominees in Bush's second term as I recall. Let me also ask you, sir, about then going forward. Because as I understand it you said you have the votes to invoke this nuclear option, correct?
MCCONNELL: Well, we are going to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch on Friday. Exactly how that occurs, I guess, will depend on the Democratic friends.
PERINO: Do you think the Democratic friends will change their mind at this point?
MCCONNELL: It doesn't appear that way. It looks like they are pretty much locked in.
PERINO: If they won't even confirm somebody like Senator Neil Gorsuch who even a former Obama administration official said is really the best you are going to get. He will be a wonderful Supreme Court justice, what does that mean about getting Democratic cooperation on anything else when it comes to the president's agenda, including tax reform, Healthcare, or even the government shutdown that the Democrats are threatening in April?
MCCONNELL: Well, right now I think they are responding to their base, which says, resists everything. It's particularly ridiculous to watch it on Gorsuch, because there are no good arguments to vote against Gorsuch, none whatsoever. Look, Dana, I think later in the year the fever will break. There is business that we need to do for the American people hopefully an infrastructure bill. We have to decide in late April how to fund the government. That is something that will require bipartisan cooperation. So, I hope after they get back from the April recess the fever will have broken and everybody will get back to normal here.
PERINO: Well, as usual, as you titled your book you take the long view in these things. Senator, if I could get your quick thoughts on former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. There's a number of your fellow Republicans in the senate, including a couple on the intelligence committee say they want her to appear before that committee for questions over her role in the potential unmasking of Trump associates. Watch this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she ask (inaudible) and Clapper to unmask incidental collection of Trump transition figures? If she did I want to know why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe she should be called as a witness by the senate intelligence committee that has been conducting an investigation as you know into the Russian activities leading up to the election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Susan Rice should be part of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Do you share their sentiments, sir, that she should come and testify and say what she knows?
MCCONNELL: Yeah, look. I have asked the intelligence committee, Senator Burr, Senator Warner to conduct a bipartisan investigation of this whole episode. They will conduct it. Hopefully at the end we will find out what happened and they will issue a report I hope on a bipartisan basis. And anything related to Susan Rice or any of these other suggestions will be handled by the intelligence committee and we look forward to receiving their report about what happened.
PERINO: All right. Senator McConnell, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Dana.
PERINO: In less than 30 minutes, Republican will huddle on Capitol Hill in an attempt to resurrect the healthcare bill, but a new report tonight suggests members of the GOP represent just one of six groups making the president's job more difficult. We'll fill you in on who the other five are next. Plus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered that all police reform agreements ordered under former President Obama be immediately reviewed.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will once again be a country of law and order.
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PERINO: Breaking tonight. Capitol Hill about to be buzzing as a major meeting tonight on healthcare scheduled for 8:00 p.m., a late one. The White House meeting with the warring factions inside the GOP with the hopes of salvaging the failed healthcare bill and, according to the website FiveThirtyEight, it isn't just a GOP President Trump needs to apiece they note 6 degrees of Trump opposition that include the bureaucracy, the courts, Democrats in congress, the public, the media and as we mentioned Republicans in congress. Harry Enten, Senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight and Josh Kraushaar is political editor for the National Journal. When you think about opposition how strong is any one entity in that list?
HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I don't think any of one of that is that stronger than any of the others? I think Trump facing so many different opponents makes it extremely difficult to get the legislation he wishes to get passed through the congress.
PERINO: All right, Josh, let me ask you, because I think it was last week, because I read your columns and I think I got this one. Maybe it was yesterday. You talked about there are basically three camps of Republicans. Can you explain what you mean by that?
JOSH KRAUSHAAR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Yeah. Well, as harry pointed out in his piece, one of the big problems for Trump right now is that he is not uniting the Republican Party. You see the Party being divided with its more establishment ring and the freedom caucus which is giving the administration plenty of administrative troubles and having a political impact, too. The most important factor for Trump right now is getting that Republican Party united. He has control of the house, senate and clearly the presidency. So, the fact that you have these divides between the establishment and the more populist wing of the party and thought freedom caucus is reasserting its own influence is making it just incredibly hard to govern.
PERINO: But, Harry, given the fact that they are meeting tonight at 8:00 and I have been hearing little whispers the last couple of days that they are actually nearing some sort of agreement and then had you President Trump golfing with Senator Rand Paul, who had been very vocal and against the bill as it had been written, the one was that pulled, are they making some sort of progress on sort of working together?
ENTEN: Maybe. But I think the thing that the healthcare bill had such trouble doing was uniting, say, the moderates in the party with the very conservative representatives in the house and either block is large enough to help derail it so being able to kind of slice that baby and figure out a way to get these warring factions together to me is very, very difficult. We will see if he is able to pull it out. Count me a skeptical considering that either faction was large enough to derail the original healthcare bill.
PERINO: Harry isn't your middle name skeptical.
ENTEN: My middle name is Joseph but skeptical works, too.
PERINO: Those of us that know you skeptical work through, because you like to work things through. Let me ask you Josh, we just had Senator Mitch McConnell on. He said Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court Friday. How far does that go to uniting the Republican Party and how long does that feeling last?
KRAUSHAAR: Gorsuch's nomination has been one the few effective things that President Trump has done to unite all the factions of the Republican Party together. The big number that the administration -- what the President Trump should be watching the percentage of Republicans that approve of his job performance and 80 percent is something a Mendoza line, you need to be above 80 percent to really have the party united to really be able to offer political threats that show you still have some political clout. In the latest round of national polling, Trump's number among Republicans has dropped dangerously close. It has dropped under 80 percent. If you have the big national polls that is something that he really needs to worry about. That is why you are seeing freedom caucus conservatives feeling openly hostile towards the administration. They don't feel his words -- they don't feel like he is really able to -- his bark is worse than his bite.
PERINO: Let me ask you Harry one last question. It will be a quick one. If you are looking at spectrum totally meaningless to really important, when it comes to the president's approval rating at this point as he is just getting started how important is it?
ENTEN: I would say it is somewhat meaningful. But he has plenty of time to improve it as long as he stays popular with Republicans above that 80 percent Mendoza line that Josh was talking about, he will still be able to say thread in some of those Republicans step out of line should fall back in line. If it falls below that all bets are off.
PERINO: All right, gentlemen. Thank you so much. Still ahead, President Trump tough words for predecessor after suspected chemical attack kills dozens of civilians, including children in Syria, plus, Department of Justice making news tonight, a halt from the police reforms sought by the Obama administration, the details and the debate ahead.
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TRUMP: We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country. 100 percent we will cease and-to-have a country. I am the law and order candidate.
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PERINO: President Trump made law and order a central theme of his campaign. Tonight his Justice Department is making moves to ensure that remains the case during his presidency. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, taking a step towards dismantling another Obama prescription ordering a review of all police reform agreements. Fox News Jonathan Hunt has the details on this move, live from our west coast bureau. Jonathan?
JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dana. The memorandum from the attorney general effectively halting reviews of the Baltimore and Chicago police departments, among others, caught officials in those cities off guard when it was announced, but today they vowed to continue with reforms, whatever the orders from Jeff Sessions.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will make us better, make the city better. It will make our relationships with the community better.
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HUNT: Now, that defiance was echoed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who issued a joint statement with police superintendent Eddy Johnson saying change within the city's interest and that is why quote Chicago has been, is, and always will be committed to reform. Now, these reforms were previously agreed upon by the respective police departments and the Obama administration. In the case of Chicago after a civil rights investigation concluded that officers there too often used excessive force. While the Baltimore reforms were ordered in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, an incident that prompted widespread protests against the police. But during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general, Jeff Sessions made little secret of his skepticism of federal investigations in to police departments saying whole police departments should not be tainted by the bad actions of individual officers. He now appears to be putting those words into action, Dana.
PERINO: All right, Jonathan. Thank you so much. Now here with more Dana Loesch is the host of Dana on blaze TV and campaign director for the Emily Tisch Sussman, Center of American Progress Action Fund. Dana, if I can start with you. What I just heard Jonathan say the police departments and the city officials are saying they are going to continue to work together, regardless of federal oversight. Why would that be a bad thing? That sounds like a good thing to me.
DANA LOESCH, THE BLAZE: No. I think that is a good thing, Dana. You are absolutely right. Thanks for having me. I think this is something that should come from the community. I'm always very cautious whenever I see the federal government make any sort of overtures towards local police, because to make sure that you fix the inadequacies of a police department, it shouldn't come after a scandal or after a tragedy. This is something that should always be at the forefront of the community's mind, at city officials, the mayor, city council. This is something they should already be doing themselves and if they want to report, if they want to comply. If in this is something they decide on how to do that is fine. It shouldn't be forced upon a local police department. Lot of times, particularly the last a eight years, we saw the Department of Justice, particularly that very division be used sort of as (inaudible) to go after some of these department and try to smear the department as a whole.
PERINO: There is no doubt that some these police departments did need some reforms and maybe the thought or the threat or the possibility of federal involvement was the encouragement they needed to move forward. What are your thoughts?
EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, CENTER OF AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: They did. I think we should be clear about what these consent decrees are. If there is only an individual in the police department a bad actor and just that individual, that is a separate case. That is not when the city enters into a dissent decree with the Department of Justice. It only happens when there is a practice or pattern of unconstitutional behavior, such as excessive force. I think we should all want there to be a back stop on that. What we find in the cities saying it themselves and saying this during their press conferences yesterday and today is that they need impetus for change. It couldn't necessarily come from within. Once the investigation started, then they entered into the dissent decree and they needed that the thing we should all be looking for is public safety. You don't get public safety by saying there is no oversight at all.
PERINO: Dana, what about sort of police morale, the worry that they have about doing their jobs and like basically pulling back and sort of saw that in Chicago and I think some of the police department there was said so.
What do you make of that in regards to this type of move by General Sessions? Is it in his mind, is he trying to actually help the police to be able to do their job?
LOESCH: I think so and two things on this. For instance with Ferguson, which happened in my hometown of St. Louis, that was one individual who is put in a question but it didn't stop the Department of Justice from trying to use it as an excuse to go and smear an entire police department which then, in turn, undermines the community's faith in local policing, which then, also effects the morale of police officers. Police officers need to be able to have the trust of the community to go out and do their jobs.
Not also have to worry about having their lives ruined by overzealous civil rights attorneys who are acting on behalf of politicized weaponized Department of Justice just like we saw in past eight years. I think there are a lot of officers now breathing a little easier knowing they are going to see that remedy by this attorney general.
PERINO: All right Emily, Dana thank you so much. We have breaking news to get to. Just moments ago, North Korea reportedly firing a projectile into the Sea of Japan, the Senior White House Official responding quote, the clock has now run out. And all options are on the table. Mark Thiessen is here on that breaking news just next.
PERINO: Breaking tonight new reaction to devastating attack in Syria and a warning that some of the images you are about to see are very disturbing. Dozens have been killed in suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. The White House forcefully condemning the attack and just moments ago, some other troubling news out of North Korea, where they had just fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, a senior administration official says the clock has run out and, quote, all options are on the table.
Joining me now Marc Thiessen is an American Enterprise Institute Fellow and Fox News contributor. First to North Korea since that news just happened. Last time they did this and fired missiles into the Sea of Japan, they were practicing distance, right? To our military bases and ports. This comes on the eve of the first meeting that President Trump will have President Xi of China which President Trump with no doubt say to China you need to step up and help us with this North Korea issue, because we do have all options on the table and you know that China wants stability above all other things.
MARC THIESSEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. No, I think the key to solving this problem is China in terms of in diplomacy in China putting pressure on the North Koreans, but the North Koreans are completely dependent on China. Our leverage is limited. We have the threat that President Trump has put on the table there. But if you want to solve this diplomatically and not militarily, it's going to be China having to come down hard on them and Trump has to deliver a message to the Chinese which he did in the interview either do you or we will and you won't like the way we do it.
PERINO: Other story in Syria, you know this has been a repeated story we have seen for a while like go back to what we are talking about tonight axis of evil. Here we have in Syria the chemical weapons attack. What do you make of where we have been in the last four years leading up to this moment and tomorrow morning we'll have, finally, a human rights council meeting at the united nations, an emergency meeting called today.
THIESSEN: You know Susan Rice is in the news again. So let me read you a quote from Susan Rice on January 16th, 2017 bragging to NPR we were able to get the Syrian government and to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile, apparently not. This was a direct result of the Obama administration failure to enforce its red line. They drew a red line and see say if they even move chemical weapons nonetheless use them.
One the diplomacy didn't work of disarming them of chemical stockpile. All the reports suggest this wasn't chlorine gas which is more common this was Sarin gas that was used and one of the things that was supposed to be disarmed. Two, it was emboldened Assad to think he can get away with this stuff. You have a common theme here, Dana. In North Korea, Bill Clinton and went it and had an agreement in 1994 get rid of the North Korean nuclear program. We have achieved peace in our time. Now we have got Obama administration with its failed chemical weapons diplomacy and we have got coming up the pike is the Iran agreement where the Iranians have said they are going to disarm. We have weapons of mass destruction spreading all over the world and arms control agreements and approaches have failed in every case to stop these people from getting these weapons.
PERINO: True. Its day 75 of the first 100 days and as every administration does, inherits foreign policy issues and problems from the previous administration. These feel very consequential. And I thank you for your insight tonight, because I know you know a ton about it, thank you, Marc.
THIESSEN: Thank you, Dana.
PERINO: Thank you for watching. I'm Dana Perino. I will see you tomorrow on "The Five." that other show. Have a good night and thank you for joining us.
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