TRANSCRIPT

President Trump criticizes Obama's foreign policy legacy

Is the previous administration responsible for current tensions? Karl Rove weighs in on 'The O'Reilly Factor'

 

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 17, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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PERINO: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Dana Perino in for Bill O'Reilly. And in the "PERSONAL STORY" segment tonight, President Trump and the aftermath of Barack Obama's foreign policy. Amid growing tensions with Syria, Russia, and North Korea, President Trump ripped his predecessor on Twitter today, writing, "The first 90 days of my presidency has exposed the total failure of the last eight years of foreign policy! So true." Joining us from Austin to analyze, Karl Rove, former Senior Adviser to President George W. Bush.

Now, Karl, you'll remember in the days right -- in the years, actually, after the Bush administration ended, President Obama used to blame President Bush for everything. Like if it rained, that was President Bush's fault. And it got a little bit tiresome. But is it fair, I think, you know, in the first 90 days, six months, to compare and look back to the previous administration?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look, it was tiresome, as you say, when Barack Obama did it. And frankly, I think President Trump would be well advised to stay away from it because it will go quickly become tiresome if he does it, as he did today. Look, he is right that a lot of what we're facing today is a direct result of failed policies under Barack Obama, whether it was the reset with Russia that failed that allowed Russia to play a bigger role today than it should. The Iranian nuclear deal, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq that allowed ISIS to spread, the attempt to impose a zero option in Afghanistan withdrawal there which would lead to the same place. There -- we could go on and spend a whole hour talking about that.

Having said that, though, it doesn't make President Trump look strong. Better for him to focus what time he has with the American people through Twitter or on television appearances or in speeches on looking at what he is doing and carrying it forward. And then, the American people are fully capable of, particularly with the help of pundits like you and me, of understanding the contrast between President Obama and President Trump. In fact, most of them get it. A lot of people remember what President Obama said, oh, it's a red line if they do this in Syria, and then when they crossed the red line time and time and time again, they did nothing. This president said it's going to cost a -- it crossed a lot of lines with me and within a matter of hours, he struck at the place from which those attacks were made. So, look, he looks weak when he does this. He looked strong by focusing on the future and what he is doing, not on the past.

PERINO: His actions certainly have spoken almost louder than his words. And I would agree with that. He did get a bump in his general approval, sort of, after the foreign policy actions that he's taken. Is that sustainable and can he turn that into any sort of capability to -- when Congress gets back next week to get them back to the table and working to try to advance his domestic agenda?

[20:39:46] ROVE: Well, success does beget success, so the more success he has on the foreign policy front, he had a good meeting with China, we had the -- they had the attack on Syria, we've got the engagement with North Korea, where our allies are being responsive to his -- and the Chinese are being responsive to what he's had to say. So, yes, he can use that a little bit. But look, again, he would be better if he were spending the time not bashing Obama. That's easy to do, but if he'd use those tweets to help advance his cause when it comes to these kind of foreign policies, pointing out how America is in better shape or helping American people understand where he's going.

If he does that, then he does get more political credit. But simply bashing President Obama, that works with the people who are with him already. It doesn't help expanded by drawing to his side, people who either sat out the election or were mildly disposed to be for Hillary Clinton over him.

PERINO: All right. There was another issue that's popped up in the past few days because last Friday, on Good Friday, the White House announced that it was no longer going to continue the practice that President Obama had undertaken, which was to release the White House visitor logs, with some exceptions that they had. Let's take a listen to what Sean Spicer said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why does the president object to people knowing who is coming in the White House?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it's not a -- it's not a question of objecting. It's about following the law. And we're following the law as both the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Record Acts are prescribing. So, it's the same policy that every administration had up until the Obama administration. And frankly, the faux attempt that the Obama administration put out where they would scrub who they didn't want put out, didn't serve anyone well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO: Now, Karl, in 2011, a federal court actually told the Obama administration, you actually don't have to do this. But he continued the practice anyway. So, with President Trump deciding not to continue that, I guess he's on pretty solid legal ground, but is it another distraction that he's going to have to deal with when it comes to his critics?

ROVE: Yes. Look, he is solid -- on solid legal ground. You may remember during our years in the White House, this became an issue. And the -- Sean Spicer was right. Every previous president, President Bush 43, President Clinton, President Bush 41, Reagan, ad nauseam, back to the past, did not release the name of visitors to the White House. And we had a -- we had lawsuits in the Bush years about this.

Having said that, it's a close call because on the one hand, he is on good solid legal ground, on the other hand, it's an unnecessary P.R. battle right now. I mean, he is already under fire for not releasing his tax returns as previous presidents have done. Now, he has this where it looks like he is trying to, sort of, constrict people's information, people's access to what's going on. So, I -- you know, it's a needless controversy. It will dog him for a couple of days. I wish they hadn't done it but now that they've done it, so tough it out and hopefully -- hope the media starts talking about something else. But I think it adds to --

(CROSSTALK)

PERINO: We'll see what they do.

ROVE: -- they got something to hide. Yes.

PERINO: Right. All right, Karl, Happy National Haiku Day. A little inside joke.

ROVE: Well, same to you. I wish I had a ready -- I wish I had a ready haiku for you.

PERINO: I'll check -- I'll check with you tomorrow. All right. Thank you.


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