Transcript

The Report Card: Week 12 of the Trump administration

'The First 100 Days' panel grades the president's performance

 

This is a rush transcript from "The First 100 Days," April 14, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how. We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: The president said many times that he would not telegraph his moves when it comes to military action. He has now proven that, two weeks in a row. So now on the brink, potentially, of more action, the next surprise may come from North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, among other things, the President sent a tweet that upped the ante a bit. Saying this, "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S. with its allies will! U.S.A." North Korea says that tweets like that puts the always volatile peninsula in a, quote, "vicious cycle" right now. So, where is this headed and how quickly? Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Greg Palkot, reports tonight from Pyongyang, North Korea.

GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, war talk coming from North Korea on the eve of maybe the most dangerous date of the year here. North Korean's leader, Kim Jong-un, his Deputy Foreign Minister, Han Song-ryol, telling associated press today what we have been hearing North Korean officials here for the past couple of days. That this government in North Korea is ready to confront the United States in what it has dubbed "Reckless military maneuver" with a preemptive strike using a powerful nuclear deterrent.

Now are the people of Pyongyang getting ready to mark the anniversary of the birth date of the founder of this country, Kim Il-Sung. There also have been reports that North Korea could stage yet another detonation of a nuclear device, that official today saying that, that will be done by the government at a time and a place of their choosing.

We've also heard from that official talk about President Trump. In his words, that administration has caused vicious and aggressive provocations. And it is in fact, President Trump that is causing all the problems. Listen to a few provocative words we got today from one North Korean colonel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even though that the U.S. tried to invade a country to attack, we don't do it because we have such a mighty strength. And if they do, then we will smash the head and blow them up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PALKOT: By the way, President Trump at one point said he might share a hamburger with Kim Jong-Un to talk it over and try to work out this situation. In fact, the official saying today that that was just lip service and that is not going to happen. Fighting words, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Greg Palkot in North Korea. Here now, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shafer, who's a former CIA-trained intelligence operative and Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. And also Mark Jacobson, former Senior Advisor to General Petraeus and a Senior Fellow at the Salve Regina University at Pell Center. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here.

I think the most important thing for us is to address if they were to launch a missile over the weekend in commemoration of the birth of their founder, what would that potentially look like and what kind of sophisticated technology of potentially nuclear intercontinental missile are we talking about here, Tony?

TONY SHAFER, LONDON CENTER FOR POLICY RESEARCH, SENIOR FELLOW: Well Martha, we have very effective counter missile capabilities already in the theater. The aegis cruisers that we both - the Japanese - we both have are very effective in capturing a missile in boost phase. That's to say the initial takeoff going into the atmosphere is a very good time to do it.

We're good. The problem is this. We do know for a fact they do have the ability to reach Japan and our allies, the South Koreans. There is a very good possibility, based on what I've been told that they can reach United States with a ballistic missile. The question becomes, is the technology sufficient to mount a nuclear warhead to the nose cones of those missiles?

So this is no small issue. But it's very clear that one of the reasons we have a high posture at this point is what Mr. Trump has said is the policy. We will not stand by like the previous administrations and allow for the North Koreans to behave badly. And I think it's being made very clear by the Syria action, by the dropping of the MOAB yesterday in Afghanistan that military forces are very much on the table.

MACCALLUM: We move ships and planes into the region, Mark, and you combine that with the increased dialogue between President Xi of China and President Trump of the United States, where they seem to be getting somewhere to a place that we have not seen prior President's to be able to get in the past. So that has to have North Korea sitting up and paying attention. The question is how do they respond?

MARK JACOBSON, SALVE REGINA UNIVERSITY SENIOR FELLOW: This is why I'm really surprised, actually. I think President Trump has actually made some inroads with the Chinese. I'd rather see him capitalize on that and do what the last couple of administrations haven't been able to do, and that's forced the Chinese towards leveraging the North Koreans a little bit.

I'm just a little concerned about the bellicose language coming -- I'm never concerned about the North Korean bellicose language in terms of what they are saying. I mean, they are a dangerous country, but they like to bluster. What I am concerned about is taking this sort of preemptive action in the wake of a nuclear test which is of less concern to me than a potential missile loss or an actual missile launch.

MACCALLUM: I mean, you know, there was some discussion that perhaps we would take some kind of preemptive action. That has been shut down by everybody that we have spoken to. Tony, I don't think that anyone believes that's on the table right now. Is it?

SHAFER: No, it's not. Let me be clear on this, though. We have planned for that contingency. President Trump has been very good about going back and looking at options which has been presented to previous leaders. I've worked this North Korean issue since 1992. One of my dear friends, Jim Woolsey and I, has worked on a number of concepts. Jim was the former Director of CIA which would have looked at potential preemptive action a number of things. But I don't believe that's on the table. With that said, I think President Trump wants it to be known that the concept of potential military actions, especially when you are guarding nuclear weapons, is something that is on the table.

MACCALLUM: All right. You hear this language and you see the shift in this dynamic, Mark. And it does in some ways remind you of, you know, President Reagan saying "Tear down this wall." this kind of ability to confront people who have not been confronted in years and years and years, and to shake up the status quo, relationships with our enemies in a way that is unnerving but also in some ways opens the door, does it not?

JACOBSON: It can. I don't like the Reagan analogies because Reagan not only did a great job in terms of showing that the U.S. had and would use military action if necessary. But he was also very adept at using covert intelligence action. And I know there is a big problem there when we talk about Iran-contra. But he was also highly effective at using soft power in a way that we often don't think of Reagan using. So I haven't seen --

MACCALLUM: But isn't it soft power sitting with the Chinese President at the dinner table and coming away with a pretty different relationship?

JACOBSON: No, that's diplomacy. That's different in soft power. What I'm talking about is using organizations like the U.S. State Department to build the sort of civil society programs that undermine the strength of our enemies. Now, North Korea is a little bit different. But what I'm talking about is a comprehensive approach of strategy. I'm not seeing that. What I'm seeing are individual data points. I'm not ready to call Trump the Reagan of his era.

MACCALLUM: Tony, what do you think?

SHAFER: No, I think soft power is very much used with President Xi. They are talking about using economic leverage, if you will. That's why you're seeing Mr. Trump moderate his commentary regarding the Chinese. So, I think he's on that path. The question becomes, you know, will he be successful as Reagan in implementing using all own nets of nation power to be effective? That's TBD. We're less than 100 days in. But I think he's on the right path.

MACCALLUM: That's an open question. Thank you very much, gentlemen. Mark and Tony, good to see you both.

JACOBSON: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So nearly a year ago, President Trump promised America first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must only fight to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was in 2015. Often, as we know, world events can lay weights to the best-laid plans of U.S. leaders. This week, President Trump learned that as he was confronted with a number of global crisis and situations. Chris Stirewalt, Mollie Hemingway and Julie Roginsky, on the political elements of all of this for the Trump Administration, that's coming up.

Plus, it has been more than 30 years since Washington changed our tax code. But President Trump says he's ready to take it on. So what stands in his way of something that most Americans would like to see in one form or another? Straight ahead on "The First 100 Days."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have a policy yet. We don't expect to have a policy yet for the next couple of weeks in terms of specifics that we can try out and show to people. But we are taking a very deep dive right now in all aspects of our tax code under the theory, go big or go home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are going to finally have a coherent Foreign Policy based upon American interest and the shared interest of our allies. Our friends and enemies must know that if I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce that line in the sand. Believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Believe me, said President -- then candidate Donald Trump, but that was a very important Foreign Policy speech that he gave about a year ago. And it was the first time he had really summed up his thinking on a number of these issues. And we keep going back to it today to reflect on it. But in recent days with the U.S. strike in Syria and the bombing of ISIS with the MOAB in Afghanistan, we have seen some very radical changes. As President Trump is apparently shifting away from a more isolationist platform, but he did speak there about the fact that he would not be afraid to strike if need be. So here we can go through some of those changes with Trace Gallagher in our West Coast newsroom. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CO-ANCHOR: Hi, Martha. Experts say it's common for administrations to reset Foreign Policy. Remember, the Obama Administration tried to do it with a button. Trump did it with 59 tomahawk missiles. And the common theme in the Trump reset is that he's not afraid to change his mind. Take NATO for example. Candidate Trump called it obsolete, a relic from the Soviet era, even a burden on America. Now Trump says the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not obsolete. In fact, Trump now believes NATO could be a major asset in the fight against terrorism. Critics point out that while Trump has reversed himself, NATO has changed very little. Then there is China. Trump repeatedly vowed that on day one of his administration, he would designate China as a currency manipulator; meaning, that China cheapens its currency to make their exports more affordable and attractive to gain U.S. market share. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country. And that's what they are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Now, the President says China hasn't been manipulating its currency for months. Trump went on to say he doesn't want to take any steps that would jeopardize talks with Beijing, on confronting the North Korea threat. The Presidents stand on Russia has gone the opposite direction. As a candidate, he said he got along well with the Russians and that he can make deals with them. Now he says, quote, "It would be wonderful if NATO and our country can get along with Russia. Right now, we aren't getting along with Russia at all." He went on to say, "Eventually, everyone will come to their senses."

Finally, there is Syria. In September 2013, Donald Trump tweeted this advice to President Obama. "Again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria. If you do, many very bad things will happen. And from that fight, the U.S. gets nothing." And now? Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Bottom line, the President's position, and policies, not exactly set in stone. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Tray, thank you. So here with more of Chris Stirewalt, Fox News Politics editor; Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor at the Federalists; and Julie Roginsky, a Democratic Analyst, both of them Fox News contributors. Good to have all three of you with us to evaluate the week.

So, I mean, it is fascinating, Chris, when you look back at these statements and in many ways, you know, you can play this game with pretty much every president. The game changes once you get into the White House. But what do you make of the action that President Trump is taking versus the words, in many cases, That President Obama laid down?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL POLITICS EDITOR: Look. You are 100 percent right which is when a politician does this, if he's moving in your direction, you say he's growing in office or maturing. If he's moving away from your direction, you say he's a flip-flopper and who cannot be trusted. This is just the reality of political life because they all do it because politicians will stay a lot of stuff to get elected. And we will damn them for that but we will praise them for this.

When you get in office, you get new streams of information, new inflows where you will say, OK, we can't invade Syria and win the war. Nobody wins the war in Syria. Nobody wins Afghanistan; there is nothing to win but heartbreak. So the United States plays a different role in the world than Trump realized when he's running for office. He's comporting himself in a different way. And as long as things continue to go well, I think he will not only get a pass on it but it will help them.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Let's take a look at the most recent gallant numbers which show basically that there is a decrease in the spread. So, his approval numbers are inching up a little bit and the disapproval number coming down a little bit. He's now negative 15, as you can see in that spread. So Mollie, it just raises the question. You know, overall, do the American people like this version of Donald Trump?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FEDERALIST SENIOR EDITOR: Well, I actually disagree that this is a major change from what his rhetoric was during the campaign. There is actually a national interest case to be made and he's very much focused on national interest that the strike in Syria needed to happen. He did say throughout the campaign that he would bomb the heck out of ISIS, which is what it happened in Afghanistan. And he also said that china was a big threat more than Russia.

Now, playing hard with Russia does not necessarily mean he doesn't want to work with them in the future, it's just letting them know that the eight years of Obama letting them walk all over us is not going to continue and that's not the posture from which he will be negotiating. And with China, he has always focused on China being a threat. It is a very significant turnaround on currency manipulation, but I think what you were seeing there is he's working out whether it's going to be a policy of containment or cooperation with China, but still focused on how important China is, far more important than many people in the media seem to realize. And that they are a key player that we need to figure out how we are going to work with.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, there is a whack-a-mole game out there and in the past, President Obama chose not to, you know, really throw too many of those wax in order to deal with it. And President Trump has started to take it on. But there is another one that crops up because it's a complicated game once you get into it. And it's in Afghanistan. And we saw what the action took with the MOAB to blow out those tunnels that ISIS has been using. But Russia and Iran are very much involved in this Afghanistan situation in supporting the Taliban there. So it's more than just going after ISIS in this area. Let's play this sound from General Nicholson at a Senate hearing back in February and we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN NICHOLSON, UNITED STATES FORCES AFGHANISTAN COMMANDER: We know there is a dialogue; we know there is a relationship between Russia and Iran. Russia is selling advanced weapon systems to Iran. So we know there is communication between them.

TIM KAINE, SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: It would seem to be a little bit unlikely if they would be both engaging in efforts to bolster or prop up the Taliban, you know, completely and independently one of those.

NICHOLSON: We believe they are communicating about the efforts. We believe. And that the effect of their efforts would - are undermining the Afghan government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Fascinating. We have seen Iran and Afghanistan along with Russia, Julie, trying to spread their influence basically as much as they possibly can in the Middle East. Where does this go?

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC PARTY STRATEGIST: Well, we've seen that happening since the Crimean war, if not, generations prior to that. But I will say, you know, I will ask of this Administration what I've asked the previous two administrations which is, what does entailing in Afghanistan mean to you as a win? What does winning mean in Syria? What does winning mean in North Korea? Because you can drop all the bombs that you want to drop, but the reality on the ground may or may not change. So what are you trying to accentuate? I think no administration, including this one thus far, has really leveled with the American people about what a win is to them.

Look, we just dropped the biggest bomb since Nagasaki in Afghanistan and we killed apparently close to 40 people. What does that get us? How does that advance our interests more and more? Because from what I can tell, an admiral a long time ago, well before this administration, said to me that the one thing that the Taliban knows is that eventually, we will leave and they will stay. And nothing so far, by any administration, since we have invaded Afghanistan during the Bush Administration, has done anything to change that perception. We will eventually leave and they will still be there. And nobody can explain to the American people thus far what or how that can meaning for change no matter how many bombs dropped.

MACCALLUM: It clearly was a hit too, you know, curb those expansionist views for Russia and Iran in that area. And also to try to impede Islamic terrorism. Chris, quick thought on that. We're going to come back to you guys in a little bit. But I want to finish it up here.

STIREWALT: We will see what this is all a part of. Trumpism, in the new form, we will find out what these actions are in service of, or we want. But this is an amazing transition, an amazing event to watch in history. It's great to be here.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, guys. We'll be back with you in just a few minutes. So, can Donald Trump be the first president since Ronald Reagan to overhaul the tax code, turning the attention back here at home? And what happens that could stand on the way of that? We're going to break down the latest on what the President has called one of his most important policy moves that is coming soon.

Plus, how are Trump allies taking reports of these power struggles? Yes, we wanted to look beyond sort of the surface here. What does it mean if Steve Bannon has less influence and Jared Kushner has more, philosophically for the direction of the Trump White House? Fox News Sunday's, Chris Wallace, covered the host of presidency and he joins us next, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GALLAGHER: Live from America's news headquarters, I am Trace Gallagher. The former sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona is looking to add star power to his upcoming criminal contempt of court trial. Joe Arpaio is asking for the country's top cop, Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify. Arpaio, who is known for his hardline immigration policy faces a misdemeanor contempt charge for letting immigration patrols continue despite a judge's order to stop them. Arpaio's attorney tells Fox News's office has not been in contact with Jeff Sessions and is making the request by court documents. It's unknown if Sessions will actually appear.

A jury has acquitted former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in the shooting deaths of two men in 2012. The verdict comes two years to the day after the former NFL star was convicted in another killing. The 27-year-old is serving a life sentence. I'm Trace Gallagher. Now back to THE FIRST 100 DAYS.

MACCALLUM: There are pretty loud rumblings of power struggles inside the walls of the White House right now. That's nothing new, we've seen that before, but tonight, the intrigue surrounds what is reportedly a dramatic shift in influence away from Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, toward President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner and the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn.

So let's look at the headlines from the past 24 hours that tells us a bit of the stories. Political Magazine writing this, "Donald Rodham Clinton: The Trump presidency is taking on a decidedly Clintonian flavor," according to them. The Washington Post said this, "Within Trump's inner circle, a moderate voice captures the President's ear." And from the Wall Street Journal, "The Kushner-Cohn ascendency."

Here with us to unravel some of this, Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. Chris, good to see you as always, I mean, these are the headlines that this White House is waking up to every morning these days. What do you make of it?

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST: Well, first of all, this is Washington's favorite parlor game. Who is off, who's down, who's in, who was out? I think this particular interest, and perhaps delight in this one because Steve Bannon was the ascendant figure for the first month, month and a half of this presidency. And Bannon was the one who kept talking about the media as the enemy and we are going to drain the swamp. And the swamp likes to fight back. There are a lot of alligators in the swamp. And so I think they are taking particular delight in Steve Bannon's fall from grace. A couple of aspects to it that were interesting, Martha.

First of all, when he appeared in February on the cover of Time Magazine as the master strategist, you knew that wasn't going to sit well with this President who actually counts the number of times he's been on the cover of Time Magazine.

MACCALLUM: Right. He likes to be the cover person.

WALLACE: Right. He doesn't like the idea of being upstaged by one of his advisors. In the addition to which, Trump likes to win like any dealmaker. He likes to close the deal. And when Bannon presided over the Executive Order on the travel ban and immediately got blocked in the courts and even the second one that got blocked in the courts. I don't think trump like that very much. Also, he followed Bannon's advice on repeal and replace and the idea that they were going to get the House Freedom Caucus to obey like an obedient dog. And that didn't work. So Trump is looking for somebody else and maybe can pull up some accomplishments. And at this point, that looks like Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn.

MACCALLUM: Yes. He also, according to reports, was against the missile strike at Syria. He is much more isolationist in tone and that seems to have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the President.

So that kind of reinforces this notion that the advice that Steve Bannon has given him hasn't necessarily worked that well for him, at least in the early going. But it's interesting, Chris, that you know, Steve Bannon was the anti-establishment voice here.

And that is a very powerful bit of sustenance to the Trump campaign. And it's got a huge response really across this country. And you have to ask yourself, if it loses that, if they lose that adherence to believing that Washington needed to be shaken up. I think of so many voters we talked on the campaign trail who said, "I want somebody who's going go in there and shake things up." And he's that -- he represents that part of the Trump presidency, Chris.

WALLACE: I would make two points in regards to that, Martha. One is, you know, Donald Trump didn't discover populism or anti-establishment feeling when Steve Bannon came on. As Trump said in a couple of interviews this week, Steve Bannon is a guy who worked for me and I'm my own chief strategist.

And I remember interviewing him in October of 2015 ling before Bannon came on the scene and he was sounding a lot of these things on trade and fighting against losing American jobs. A lot of the real underpinnings of the Trump campaign were established long before Steve Bannon came there. So, Bannon's decline doesn't mean that Trump is going to go completely establishment.

On the other hand, look, Bannon failed. The travel ban failed. Health care repeal and replace failed. And Trump wants to win. And that's not an unusual thing. And I think in the end the key to a lot of the Trump base is the economy. And whether or not he is able to protect jobs, whether he's able to get the economy going, and if he sees Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn can get him tax reform and deregulation and a lot of those things, and then he'll stay with him. If they don't do it, they may have to go to somebody else, although that will get a little sticky given the fact that Jared Kushner is his son-in-law.

MACCALLUM: Yes, it sure will. You know, the forgotten man, the forgotten woman that we heard so much about will not want to be forgotten again. So you're right, if anybody can fix it, you know, to sort of make them feel that the economy is getting better, if it's Kushner and Cohn who can succeed in that, that will be, you know, success breeds success. So, we'll see. Chris, you have a good lineup coming. I know you have Representative Max Thornberry coming up this weekend, right?

WALLACE: We do. The chairman of House Armed Services, obviously the world watching to see what happens in North Korea this weekend. There is going to be a big celebration, the 105th anniversary of the founder, that's the time when North Korea has a tendency to test the missile or do a nuclear test -- President Trump warning them not to do that. We'll have a live report from North Korea. And then we'll also have as you say, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee reacting to whatever does or doesn't happen.

MACCALLUM: Chris, thank you. We look forward to that this weekend. Good to see you as always.

WALLACE: You bet. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So still ahead, a potentially historic week, one that The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan says maybe look back upon as a moment actually when quite a lot changed in the Trump White House.

That, plus grades for week 12 through that we have just been through -- Stirewalt, Hemingway and Goolsbee joining us once again.

Plus, out on the trail, then candidate Trump made some big promises about overhauling the tax code, which is a very popular idea in this country for corporations all the way down to individuals. Can he close that deal, which is becoming tricky but has promised? First time in 30 years that would happen. Alex Conant and Juan Williams next on why the president needs to get that done before the end of -- before the beginning of 2018. We'll be right back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are going to lower taxes on American business from 35 percent to 15 percent. We are going to massively cut taxes for the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was then candidate Donald Trump promising a big win for the middle class. You could hear the people cheering and the crowd there when he said that. It's been about 31 years since the tax code was last overhauled. And now the president is pushing hard to deliver on that win. But reports are now suggesting that there's a bit of butting of heads over this one at the White House as well. Paul Ryan has his own thoughts on how they should be handled. Earlier this week, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney explained how long and how difficult the processes will be. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The bottom line is that tax discussions have been going on since we got here in January. I've been participating at a group that's being led by Steve Mnuchin, the secretary of Treasury and Gary Cohn at the NEC to talk about all sorts of different ideas.

We want to take the tax code back to a blank piece of paper and rebuild it from the ground up in the proper fashion in order to help people get back to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That's a big lift. Alex Conant, Republican strategist and Juan Williams, co-host of "The Five" and Fox News political analyst. I think Juan, anyone who has filled out tax returns would love there to be a blank piece of paper that they are starting with. Is that possible?

JUAN WILLIAMS, POLITICAL ANALYST, FOX NEWS: Well, yes Martha. If you and I put it together, I guess we can do it.

MACCALLUM: Just put a big zero on it, send it back. Sounds good to me.

WILLIAMS: In fact, just send it there -- but you know, the difficulty with this is that everybody has a favorite item in terms of deductions or interests or exemptions. And so everybody really has a hand in trying to figure out how to reform taxes. And the minute that you skin one person's cat, that person is going to scream.

I think President Trump has already seen this. I mean, for example the border adjustment tax, he says now he's not so sure. That's a favorite of Paul Ryan. I don't know how you adjust that since he has to work with Ryan to get tax reform done.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Paul Ryan has been working and thinking about tax reform for many years, Alex, as you well know, and this is his chance now to put that form into action. Do you think they're going to be able to see eye to eye to this and you know, maybe more importantly, what can the American people expect?

ALEX CONANT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I think President Trump is handling this exactly the way he should, which is he is bringing everyone together and trying to iron out the best policy possible that can pass Congress. At the end of the day, you need a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate to pass this. So you need to make sure that whatever you propose has a potential to win majority support. That means bringing in all of the stakeholders.

To Juan's point, there are going to be a lot of people opposing it, so you better make sure that there are a lot of people supporting whatever you're going to do as well. That was a mistake that they didn't do on health care where they rolled it out and nobody supported it. This time around, they are going to make sure they have people supporting it.

MACCALLUM: Yes. They don't want that to happen again. That was pretty ugly and kind of embarrassing on all sides at the end. Gary Cohn says they can do this revenue in a revenue neutral way, to cut corporate taxes without taking it from anywhere else. How is that going to happen, Juan?

WILLIAMS: I don't know. I mean, so part of this equation, Martha, goes back to health care, and the idea was that if you had a lower-cost health care plan for the American people that that saved revenue thing could be factored into the tax cuts. But without the tax -- without the health care reform, exactly then how do you go at it?

And we've heard this week President Trump say, oh, no, he still intends to do health care first. Well, wait a second. Everybody is thinking now we have moved on to tax reform. When I say everyone, I mean people on Capitol Hill. So they're not looking backwards, but the president still thinks he needs the health care reform money in order to justify and explain why he's doing tax cuts. That makes it very difficult at the moment even in terms of ordering the process.

MACCALLUM: Alright, just about half a minute, but I want to get your thoughts, Alex, on this Georgia race. Tell people what they need to watch there.

CONANT: Well, we didn't watch Republican turnout. The Democrats are obviously very motivated. They're doing everything they can to stop Trump both in Congress and all of these special elections. If Republicans...

MACCALLUM: We should point out this is the old Newt Gingrich seat. It's Tom Price's favorite seat that he gave up so obviously a loss there for Republicans would be a big deal.

CONANT: Exactly. And Republicans are discouraged because we haven't yet repealed and replaced ObamaCare. We haven't yet introduced a tax plan.
We're going to have 100 days into the presidency with no major legislative accomplishments so, Republican voters around the country are understandably a little bit depressed at this moment. If they don't vote, then it's going to have a big ramification on the special election. If we lose this race, it's a huge warning sign for what's headed our way in 2018.

MACCALLUM: Quick thought from Juan?

WILLIAMS: Well I think that we've seen right now what happened in Kansas last week where you have the Republican win by a much smaller margin than his predecessor Mike Pompeo, now over at CIA, that the former congressman from that district, and the smallest margin we've seen for any Republican. So, to Alex's point, turn out is key but the enthusiasm. There is a lack of enthusiasm on the GOP side.

CONANT: That's right.

MACCALLUM: We'll be watching come Tuesday. Thanks, you guys.

CONANT: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: So coming up next, is report card time. We're going to take a look back at the week that was when Chris Stirewalt, Mollie Hemingway and Austan Goolsbee weigh in with their grades for the Trump administration. Luckily for the president, they're a little higher at least in some quarters here than they were a couple of weeks ago. We'll be right back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: The global conflict can sometimes disrupt the best laid plans of American presidents, and week 12 of the Trump administration was clearly no exception -- North Korea, China, Syria, Russia, and Afghanistan all providing unique challenges and taking unique actions here. To give you an idea of how quickly things can change, let's take a look back at this week and see what happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This morning in the Rose Garden, the president was honored to host the swearing in of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: To the American people, I'm humbled by the trust placed to me today.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: For those who continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned. This is a new era. This is the Trump era.

SPICER: You had a -- someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the -- to using chemical weapons.

I made a mistake. There is no other way to say it.

TRUMP: I think aligning yourself with Assad is a big mistake because he's a butcher and I think it's very bad for Russia.

The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete.

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.

SPICER: last night, the United States military used a GBU-43 weapon in Afghanistan. A large powerful and accurately delivered weapon.

TRUMP: What I do is I authorized by military. We have the greatest military in the world and have done their job as usual so, we have given them total authorization.

NANCY SODERBERG, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITEDE NATIONS: I think the president's right to try and get China to be the linchpin there to move it forward.

TRUMP: President Xi is a terrific person. I think he's going to try very hard. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MACCALLUM: Wow, that was just one week. Peggy Noonan writes this, "If the Trump White House is itself changing dramatically, we'll look back on this week when as the moment that that change became apparent." Let's go back and grade the week that was, Chris Stirewalt, Mollie Hemingway and Austan Goolsbee, former chief economist to President Obama. Welcome back to everybody and welcome to Austan Goolsbee. Mollie, let me start with you. Your grade and, boy, that week, that was -- that's something else.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Quite a week. I mean there's no way to put it. Anything other than a clear A beginning with the Gorsuch confirmation. This is a man who will have such an influence on the court for decades to come, repositioning ourselves militarily, geopolitically all over the world.

And even things that weren't mentioned such as President Trump made it so the states can choose to no longer fund the Planned Parenthood, which is the largest abortion corporation in the country. All of these things affect different parts of his base and the country as a whole, and it was just a very solid week for him to actually get things done.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's pretty clear we're living in a whole new White House. And Austan Goolsbee does not necessarily think that's a new thing. Right, Austan?

AUSTAN GOLSBEE, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST: Well, why would you think that he's going to stay on these positions when he -- on at least five major issues completely stabbed his own previous positions and his own supporters in the back? Why would you think he's going to stay on the positions now? I mean, we're knocking on the door of war on two different continents.

We've seen Goldman Sachs take over control of the Trump administration.
They are phasing out the Steve Bannon. He is referred to as a guy who works for me by the president, and on a series of policies from health care to tax reform to many others as well as, now Donald Trump even declared the media as being full of very honorable people. I don't even know what to think.

This is like the sit and spin administration. I'm going to give him an F plus, and I'm giving him the plus only because if they're going to get Steve Bannon out of there, that's at least worthy of a plus.

MACCALLUM: Everyone knows it feels better when they get an F plus, right?

GOOLSBEE: The plus.

MACCALLUM: The plus just helps here. Just gives you a little bit of hope to the future. Chris, what do you think then?

CHRIS STIREWALT, POLITICS EDITOR, FOX NEWS: I don't know. Austan's F plus is like credit (ph) Easter card.

(LAUGHTER)

STIREWALT: But look, the president had a very successful week in some senses as Mollie pointed out. The Gorsuch confirmation, this was just the icing on the cake, was a great success. And all of those things and the new posture on world power and the elevation of people like James Mattis, H.R.
McMaster and others widely respected across partisan lines in Washington for their know-how and ability on national security for their steady hands.

But then on the domestic side, it's all of the drama at the White House, and who's in and who's out, and I don't like Steve and maybe Steve isn't a friend of mine anymore. And then Reince is up and this guy is down and the other thing, and will they feed Sean Spicer to a shark in the next episode of "The Apprentice," it's too much.

It takes too much energy away from the real business of state craft. It takes too much away from governance and at some point, he's going to have to pick a team, he's going to have to stick with it and he's going to have to stand by them even when they screw up.

MACCALLUM: Mollie, how is that going to happen do you think? Do you see that happening?

HEMINGWAY: I actually think that people don't take into account how much tension there has been in so many previous administrations. I mean, Reagan had Kat Weinberger and George Schultz fighting over serious docs (ph) final disputes. The first George Bush of administration didn't really know how to handle the Soviet Union at first. Bill Clinton's administration struggled over what to do with the Balkans.

The Obama administration was at war against itself so prominently that President Obama was fighting with his own cabinet, and you notice that this week, a lot of former Obama officials were praising Donald Trump because of that tension. Tension is normal and having differente, you know, when you build a coalition, you have different people from different strings who are going to advocate for different things.

And you know, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, they represents different parts of that coalition. I think managing that tension so long as the president himself understands which direction he wants to go in, it's not that big of a deal and people should not be as obsessed with it as they are.

MACCALLUM: Austan, you want to respond to that?

GOOLSBEE: You know, in general, I think that that's true as a guide to administrations. There is always a lot of tension. But this one is leaking up to the president. He's changing his positions on a weekly basis. I mean, he went the whole campaign saying on day one I'm going to name China a currency manipulator.

He met with the head of China and they announced that he doesn't believe China is a currency manipulator. He's not going to do that. That's more than just tension of the staff, that's just outright changing of your positions --

MACCALLUM: But Austan, let me ask you a question --

GOOLSBEE: and that I'm certain I think is going to come back to haunt him.

MACCALLUM: You know, just in terms of that because it's just, you know, one element that's fascinating to look at and he sat down with the president of China. They talked about North Korea and it seems apparent that that's part of, you know, a deal making exercise. You know, if you help us with North Korea, if you toughen up on North Korea, I'm going to back off on my accusation that you're a currency manipulator because maybe there is stuff we can work on here in the future. I mean, isn't that just a higher level of sophistication of looking at the issue or not?

GOOLSBEE: I hope you're right. But what we have observed so far with Donald Trump is this issue with China was not the only one. The export import bank, which he went through the campaign saying he thought was terrible, he talked to the CEO of Boeing who told him it was a good idea and he changed his position. And what I fear is going to happen is two weeks from now, he's going to talk to someone else and he's going to change his position again. And that uncertainty is really, deeply undermining both national security and the economy. It's a bad idea.

MACCALLUM: Thanks you, guys. Good to see all of you. Have a great weekend.

STIREWALT: Happy Easter.

MACCALLUM: OK, next time, you too, Happy Easter everybody.

So coming up next, the quote of the night and the lessons that we could all learn from the past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So, it was a week of messages sent with strong words that were backed up by military action. Going after North Korea and ISIS in an attempt to course change deeply rooted aggressive behavior on the world stage. So nobody knows where this goes from here. But it's interesting to look back at one bold move that did end up bringing about big change 30 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And down it came, eventually. With that, have a good weekend, everybody. Have a happy Easter. We'll see you Monday.

END

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