Transcript

Spicer: Trump is committed to health care and tax reforms

White House press secretary discusses the president's agenda on 'The First 100 Days'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The First 100 Days," April 19, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE FIRST 100 DAYS" HOST: Breaking tonight, our 10-day countdown to the end of THE FIRST 100 begins with Americans asking, "So, what is the real scorecard for this presidency look like as they mark three months in the White House?" I Martha MacCallum from Washington tonight, it is day 90 of "The First 100."

So, on this White House's ambitious agenda, jobs, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, a tax code overhaul, better care for veterans, toughening up foreign policy, and of course, immigration, the president's supporters want to know, is the resistance movement against this administration working or not? And what of the president's promises, his visions for shattering business as usual in this town?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I will announce my intention to totally renegotiate NAFTA.

We will also immediately repeal the Obama-Clinton defense sequester.

We will cancel all federal funding of sanctuary cities.

Replacing ObamaCare is part of my 100-day contract with the American voters. A Republican House and Senate can swiftly enact the other items in my contract immediately, including massive tax reduction and we will make America great again! Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And with those moments, just 10 days to go now until the benchmark that is always looked on as one marker of every presidency. I sat down with the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at the Executive Office building on the White House grounds just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACCALLUM: Sean Spicer, thanks for joining us. Good to have you with us.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks for coming by.

MACCALLUM: This afternoon, there was some word that ObamaCare repeal might be revived inside the 100-day mark. True?

SPICER: Well, it's a - it's always a potential. I know that our team has continued to work with members of the House in particular to see if there's a way forward, and fortunately for us, I think the appetite to really get this done continues to grow. The enthusiasm is there. And I think a lot of the policy ideas that have come out the last couple of weeks are encouraging.

MACCALLUM: The report that came up specifically said repeal, not replace, so is it possible they're going to be separated?

SPICER: Look, I don't want to get ahead of anything at this point, but I think there's a commitment that all Republicans have shared in the last several years to get this thing done. I think we understand how bad this is for our economy, for our health care. So, there's an effort to make sure that we do things that are going to increase access and lower cost, which is not the case right now.

So, the team is continuing to work with House leadership, rank and file members, but the committee over there led by Greg Walton and others has really done a lot of work to hear new ideas and get this thing moving.

MACCALLUM: The president have said he was committed to repeal and replace, is it possible that he's willing to divide those two now?

SPICER: Well, again, I think we got - let's see where we go. I think the president is obviously committed to making sure that we have a health care system in place that covers people that gives them the accessibility that they've been promised and helps bend that cost curve.

MACCALLUM: All right. You know, in terms of something you talked about a lot in the campaign trail, the forgotten man, the forgotten woman, these are people like all of us in this country who want to see jobs increased, in many cases, the people who supported the president want to see tax cuts, they want to see the ability to choose their doctor, they want to see their health premiums go down. Some of them feel like that progress has not been made in the first 100 days and they're questioning, did they vote for the right person?

SPICER: Well, I think there's unquestionably an unbelievably historic amount of progress that's been made. 24 bills have been signed, 24 executive orders, everything from energy independence to immigration, to job creation, to going after defeating ISIS, all of those areas have been tackled.

MACCALLUM: But in terms of those things, in terms of tax cuts and in terms of ObamaCare, something very specific, can you give the American people tonight some clarity on when they're going to see those things actually happen?

SPICER: Yes. Well, I mean, obviously you saw first out of the gate was the commitment to repeal and replace ObamaCare. And he hasn't stopped working. We're going to get this thing done one way or another.

MACCALLUM: That was a big disappointment.

SPICER: Well, again, but ObamaCare took, you know, 13 months, you know, 17 or so fits and starts, we're at the start. We're at the beginning of this. I think the president is committed to get this done. He's made it very clear to his team to continue to work with members of the House to get this - get this through and we're making progress and he's going forward.

MACCALLUM: All right. So, he must be frustrated with Congress. I mean, he's got the House, he's got the Senate, he's got a new Supreme Court justice and the White House, the feeling, I think, that American people had coming in and clearly those who supported him had coming in was this is just -- can happen really quickly. What's going on with Congress?

SPICER: Well, some things - some things happened, some things, you know, take a little bit longer. Again, as I mentioned we've put 24 laws, you know, laws in the book including 20 - oh, excuse me, 13 congressional review acts, what those are -- prior to this president, there had only been one in history. He is rolling back regulations that were jammed through in many cases by the Obama administration at the end. He's doing things today to protect veterans, to give them access to health care.

MACCALLUM: I understand that. Those are the things that he can do it unilaterally. But I'm saying, you know, he said "When I'm going to get to the Hill, we're going to make great deals. He's said wait until you see the deals I'm going to make with Congress. Is he frustrated?

SPICER: Well, I think in some issues he is, but on some issues that he's made tremendous progress. And I think when you look at whether his efforts to combat ISIS or re-establish America's place around the globe, he has made huge progress. When you talk about immigration, huge progress, regulatory, huge progress. I think obviously getting health care repealed and replaced is something that we're going to continue to work on very, very hard. He's committed to getting that done. But there are so many things that he's made a tremendous amount of progress on and delivered on campaign promises that he made to the American people.

MACCALLUM: Yes. So, in terms of around the globe, there have been a number of questions about flip-flops so to speak in terms of the way the president looks at the globe. And, you know, going to an issue that came up today was this question of the armada that was heading towards North Korea, which turned out to be heading somewhere else. The president has talked about his team being a finely-tuned machine. That particular incident made it apparent not so.

SPICER: Well, in that case, the leader of pacific command announced that the Carl Vinson carrier group was headed to the Korean Peninsula. It did head there. It engaged in a series of exercises that have been scheduled prior to heading there, but it's - it'll - it's well on its way and they'll be on station within a number of days.

MACCALLUM: Was the president surprised to find out that what was the message that was coming out and the fact that what's happening in the -

SPICER: I think - I think there was - I think there was a little bit of probably some confusion as to when it would go, but the order was given by the Pacific command -- commander that they would be heading there. They were heading there. I think some folks misread the immediacy of that order, but in fact, they were heading there, they were undergoing scheduled exercises. And immediately following those, proceeded on towards the peninsula.

MACCALLUM: In terms of Iran, the president railed against the Iran deal over and over throughout the course of this campaign, and now there's an indication that the deal is not going to be ripped up. What's going on with that?

SPICER: Well, what the - what the president has done is ask the interagency team, all of the relevant national security components to review the deal. One, determine whether or not Iran is living up to the commitments it made under the agreement. And then, secondly, to determine if they have or have not, what courses of action they recommend to him? They are currently engaged in that process. And then, when the team makes those recommendations, the president, he'll announcement how he's going to go forward. And part of it is they're really looking at Iran's commitments that they made under that agreement.

MACCALLUM: I mean, during the campaign, you suggested that he knew that they were not living up to those deals. (CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Right. No. But -

MACCALLUM: So, does the White House now believe that there's a chance that Iran is living up to the tenets of the deal?

SPICER: Well, again, I think part of the - part of the reason that he's asking our agency process to conduct this review is so that they look at from every angle, the agreement and the commitments that Iran has made, and whether or not they are, in fact, fulfilling those, and if not, then what recommendations do they have about how to address them or what to do with the - with the deal.

MACCALLUM: All right. When you look at the first 100 days, which we have been covering in depth on this program, what would you say is the biggest accomplishment, what's the biggest disappointment for you?

SPICER: Well, I think, you know, for so many people, it depends on what their number one issue was. I think the Supreme Court Justice - to see a Supreme Court Justice nominated and confirmed in the current political environment so quickly and so flawlessly, is obviously a huge accomplishment that's going to last a generational impact.

But I think there are so many other things. And again, today, we signed an act of legislate - a piece of legislation is going to help so many veterans get the medical care. So, for thousands of veterans across this country, you've earned the right to get these benefits, that's probably a huge thing for them.

For so many folks who cared about immigration, seeing that number dipped down 60 percent under this president is huge.

For people who are concerned about jobs, to see companies, car companies and various different major employers who talk about recommitting themselves to hiring people, that's a huge thing for them and their families, or a neighbor who just got a job that is saved, or he's announced that he's going to get hired. And so, there are so many things that have happened that I think will touch the lives of so many Americans, never mind the steps the president is taking to keep the nation safe.

MACCALLUM: In terms of the palace intrigue that gets written about so much, it seems to have quieted down a little bit over the last week or so, in terms of Steve Bannon having sort of a more background role, how is that working out?

SPICER: Well, look, I've always believed that there's probably a little too much focus on process instead of policy. There's a lot of it that's overblown. And the team here is largely the same team that helped work with the president to get him elected. It's the same team that brings so many of these -- that is so filled with talent that helps guide the president on these discussions. And I think sometimes I will read a story or get an inquiry where I've kind of chuckled about, how out of context and overblown some of these discussions or narratives or rumors are.

MACCALLUM: But in terms of the overall thrust of the administration, there are some who are concerned, who voted for President Trump, that more moderate and even liberal voices are having more sway in the west wing than they did before. Can you tell the American people, and especially those who voted for President Trump, that he is committed to conservative reform, to smaller government, and that those things that they elected him for are still top of mind, still top priority for the White House?

SPICER: Absolutely. I mean, there's two important factors. Number one, look at the record that he has achieved over these first 90 days. It's very clear that he is committed to the conservative principles and agenda that he outlined in the campaign. Second of all, at the end of the day, this is always about Donald Trump, he has a variety of advisors that give him ideas, advice, opinions, expertise on a number of things, but he knows first and foremost, most of these ideas and things that he's been chanting for decades.

And so, while he has a phenomenal team around him that is unbelievably talented, at the end of this, is always he's the ultimate decider. It is his agenda that everybody else is here to implement, not the other way around.

MACCALLUM: In terms of you, personally, the 100 days, you've taken some knocks on SNL and other places. What have you learned and how do you think, you know, next days, I'm going to - I'm going to look for, you know, improvement in this area, or I want to do this differently? Any thoughts, reflective thoughts -

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Sure. I believe that any successful organization is constantly looking at how they're operating and figuring out can they do a better job?

MACCALLUM: So you like the job?

SPICER: I love it.

MACCALLUM: Sean, thank you very much.

SPICER: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: It's good to see you.

SPICER: Good to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACCALLUM: Still ahead tonight, a dreamer gets deported, but it may not be exactly what it appears to be, we'll talk about that. And what would Judge Gorusch do, is the question when he's on the Supreme Court? Well, now, he's there. He's about to get his first big case and it gets to the heart of religious liberty. Will Gorsuch be the tiebreaker or not?

Plus, a special election in Georgia. We have the Trump team smiling today and Democrats hunting for a win out there. David Bossie and Mo Elleithee join me next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a lot of wind at our back, but the progressive energy out there is palpable.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Fallout from last night's special election in Georgia has left some on the left scrambling a bit today with one political headline reading this. Democrats begin to wonder when do we win? Democrat Jon Ossoff did not get the 50 percent that he needed in order to avoid a runoff, and this morning, DNC chair Tom Perez was forced to find some sort of silver lining in this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is another moral victory, just like in Kansas last week, and moral victories are important, but looking at the map, where do you actually win between now and the midterms that will give us an indication that this is actually going somewhere, that this is translating into electoral victory?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we had a runoff on June the 20th, there are still votes out there that are moderates, because they're going to see this Karen Handel, you know, she's far to the right. She's way off the mainstream. And I'm confident that the answer to your question, Heidi, is June the 20th of this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, as Democrats struggled to kind of find that new message that will work for them, the Democrats official Twitter offered this today. "Taking away health care from 24 million people is going low, giving a blank about people is going high." This was in response to the GOP's Twitter questioning the sale of this shirt. Take a look at that lovely shirt that I know you're going to want to support around town with a similar message. So, here with me now, David Bossie, served as President Trump's deputy campaign manager, and Mo Elleithee is executive director of George Town's Institute for politics and public service. Both are Fox News Contributors. Are those t-shirts selling like hotcakes at Georgetown today, Mo?

MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think there's some people out there that will buy them, if not for the novelty, if anything else.

MACCALLUM: So, what do you make of this notion that, you know, Democrats have this resistance movement and they feel like there's a ton of resistance out there and yet they're not winning these elections?

ELLEITHEE: So, there have been two opportunities, right? And both times, Democrats have way over performed the district, the history of the district. In Kansas, the Democrat lost, but he got about 20 points better than your typical Democrat in that district. The candidate in Georgia, Jon Ossoff outperformed the polls, he outperformed Tom Price, who had held that seat and was winning by double digits for the past several terms. You know, he ended up doubling, 20 points better. So, this is beginning to show a trend, winning matters in politics, right? And Jon Ossoff is not done. This was just step one. There's now an election, we'll see how he does.

DAVID BOSSIE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He is done. He is done.

ELLEITHEE: But there's something happening out there were Democrats in these tough districts are way over performing, the challenge for the Democratic Party is going to be to continue to take that energy and harness it into an election year, an election year that is typically tough for Democrats. We don't do well in midterms.

MACCALLUM: David.

BOSSIE: Look, and I appreciate Mo's enthusiasm, but that's all it's going to be. And that's all it is. In Kansas, they lost. In Georgia yesterday, they lost. They built this enormous structure, they've spent tens of millions of dollars and they lost. They didn't get to the -

ELLEITHEE: More money spent by outside groups against Jon Ossoff and against the public.

BOSSIE: Jon Ossoff doesn't even live in the district and he's running -- that he's running in. He's going to have a lot of trouble here in the next couple of months, trying to beat Karen Handel who is a tremendous candidate and who's going to win this thing.

Look, Donald Trump only won this district by 1.5 points. This is not some big wild district that they think they're going to be able to win. They're not going to win there and they're not going to win in South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney's seat in a couple of weeks as well. You guys are going to come close, but losing is still losing. And it doesn't -

ELLEITHEE: I don't disagree with you. We've got to start - the Democrats have to start putting points on the board, absolutely.

MACCALLUM: And he's definitely -

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Guys, here's the interesting question to me, Democrats have to be about something more than being against President Trump, so the question is, have they learned any lessons from the last election, did they learn anything from losing Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio, are they now trying to connect to these people or is - you know, the Tom Perez t-shirt, which I don't think really rings true with, you know, the blue-collar workers who, you know, want their health care fixed and want to have jobs, and all of those things, is that - is Tom Perez connecting with the people that you guys need to flip?

ELLEITHEE: Yes, that t-shirt is great for the Democratic base, right? It's not going to win over these folks in the middle?

MACCALLUM: It's great for New York and -

(CROSSTALK)

ELLEITHEE: This is my point, it's good for the base, is it good enough to win over these voters, who the Democratic Party has lost over the past couple cycles. I will say is not.

MACCALLUM: OK. Let me show something to you. I want to - I want to read something to you because Keith Ellison was just speaking at the University of Minnesota, and he said, "Barack Obama could have been a better party leader and he has put our party in jeopardy." And so, this is what we're talking about, that exclusionary mentality. That's a very strong statement for the number two at the DNC. And David?

ELLEITHEE: Look, I actually agree with the premise of your question here, right? It's kind of like ObamaCare, repeal and replace. Democrats right now have a lot of energy around repealing Donald Trump. But they've got to show what they are going to offer in return. We did not do that in 2016 and this is the time for the Democratic Party to get it out there and make the case.

BOSSIE: Look, the Republican Party is in a good spot right now. Look, the Democrats are trying their hardest, they're spending a lot of money and energy, and they're losing. The president has an agenda, his 100 days are-- he's doing an amazing job at about day 85 or 86.

Next week when Congress comes back into session, we're going to have, I think, some movement on ObamaCare repeal and replace and I hope that that's going to end up happening. We're going to get right to tax reform.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: No, really, I mean, it has to. If you guys are going to maintain any momentum --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: If you guys are going to maintain any momentum, it can happen.

(CROSSTALK)

BOSSIE: Look, I expect that the House leadership in the White House is going to come together, and next week, pass that. And I think that puts the president's agenda right back on track.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Is it repeal or repeal and replace because I tried to hold Sean Spicer down a little bit, because he said -- the story today is that they are going to repeal.

(CROSSTALK)

BOSSIE: We'll have to see what the -- what the House leadership does, but I think it's going to be a repeal and replace.

ELLEITHEE: And that will be very dangerous for the Republican Party. And look, I think both parties right now are in a tough spot. But I don't think you can say the Republican Party is. I don't think the Democratic Party is in the best spot but I don't think you can say --

MACCALLUM: All right. Thank you.

ELLEITHEE: -- the Republican Party is in the good spot either, David. The president --

(CROSSTALK)

BOSSIE: When we are for something and you guys can't find anything to be for except to be angry of Donald Trump which --

(CROSSTALK)

ELLEITHEE: That's not --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: All right. We got to leave it there, guys. Thank you very much.

President Trump today welcomed the New England patriots. Did you know that they won the Super Bowl? Did you guys know that? So, they had a great day at the White House, they were there with the president. But he also took the time today to ease the burden of our veterans. Florida Governor Rick Scott was at his side and he is here next.

Plus, Democrats rallying behind an illegal immigrant, a dreamer, deported under President Trump, but there is more to the story. And we're going to you the reporting that you may not have seen elsewhere tonight on this. Katie Pavlich joins us and Isaac Wright, coming up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me. I will tell you. To me, it's one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids, in many cases, not in all cases.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Developing tonight, a 23-year-old immigrant who was deported to Mexico earlier this year has now filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Juan Manuel Montes is a so-called "dreamer", believed to be the first-known person under the program by President Obama to be deported by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security says there is more to the story that many are not telling you. For that part of the story, we go to Trace Gallagher live in our west coast newsroom tonight. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Two sides to every story, but in this case it appears Homeland Security has documentation to back up its side. 23-year-old Juan Manuel Montes claims that on February 18th, he was getting a bite to eat with a friend on Calexico, that's near San Diego on the U.S. side of the border, when he was approached by a border patrol agent.

Montes says he didn't have his I.D., could not prove his DACA status was still valid until 2018 and so he was detained and deported. Now, initially DHS said that Montes DACA status expired in 2016, but then the agency admitted being wrong, saying his protections were good until 2018. Critics said this was proof that President Trump was not sincere about leaving the dreamers alone.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called the story "disturbing". Nancy Pelosi called it "alarming". But now DHS says Montes wasn't deported because of the expired DACA, he was deported because he was caught climbing a fence, trying to sneak back into the U.S. And after he was arrested, Montes signed documents under oath, admitting that he went to Mexico and tried to come back into California. The law says leaving the U.S. without permission terminates all DACA protections.

DHS also accuses Juan Montes of fabricating his original story saying, quoting here, "There are no records or evidence to support Montes claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on February 18th, prior to his arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19th." Attorneys for Juan Montes say they do not believe he left the U.S. voluntarily. They believe the border patrol is withholding documents and now they have filed a freedom of information lawsuit to get answers. For now, Juan Montes is staying with family in Mexico. Martha?

MACCALLUM: OK. Trace, thanks. Joining us now, Katie Pavlich, News Editor of townhall.com and a Fox News Contributor, and Isaac Wright, a Democratic strategist, who ran Hillary Clinton's correct the records super PAC. Thanks to both of you for being here. There's always, you know, layers to these stories. So, Isaac, as you listened to what happened here, if you climb over the fence and you're not allowed to climb over the fence and get back into the country, and then he broke the rules of DACA.

ISSAC WRIGHT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it sounds like there's a pretty significant discrepancy about exactly how he wound up on the other side of the border. And he and his attorneys alleged that he was taken there in the middle of the night at 1:00 AM by federal agents. So, if that's the case, why is it that information being turned over, why are we having to go to court to see what the realities is?

KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR TOWNHALL.COM: I find the timing on this story very interesting. This incident happened in February, there's been two months for advocates and activists on the pro-illegal immigration side to get this lawsuit ready. DACA is a privilege, not a right. There are certain rules, including if you're going to leave the country you must inform ICE and border patrol that you're leaving, that they know that you're going to eventually come back into the country, that you have legal status under that ruling. I think that there are still a lot of unanswered questions here, the DHS side, the side from this young man, but when you look at the details that we have, it seems to be a miscommunication at the local level. It certainly does not reflect the Trump administration policy when it comes to protecting dreamers. That still stands. When it comes to the details of this, it seems like the story from this young man has changed and the fact is he left the country.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Federal agents dumped him back over the fence to get rid of him? I mean, is there any credence to that story?

WRIGHT: Well, that's what we need to explore. That's the question at hand. And let's be 100 percent clear that we are talking about Juan Montes and exactly what his situation is. This is a young man who was brought to this country at nine years old with no input from himself by his parents.
He has been the predominant provider for his family, his elderly mother and his 9-year-old brother who was born here and is a U.S. citizen.

(CROSSTALK)

WRIGHT: From a brain injury when he was a child.

PAVLICH: This man is no longer a child. He is an adult. And he made a decision as one protected under DACA to leave the country without informing authorities that he was going there. And then on his way back, according to the Department of Homeland Security, he didn't walk through a border patrol checkpoint and say, hey, I left my wallet in my friend's car, I can't prove I'm under DACA. He instead was caught jumping the border fence, which is illegal for anybody to do. So, yes, he provides for his family, maybe he should have thought of that before leaving the country and coming back into the country illegally, which he admitted under oath to border patrol agents. And they have the documentation to prove it.

MACCALLUM: But he will have the opportunity to tell his story. And they will have the opportunity to decide whether or not he's telling the truth and to take those into consideration. So, I mean, I don't know what more anyone can ask, anyone in this program or anyone else in this country than to have their say, to have their moment, to tell their story and to see what the process decides.

WRIGHT: And that's exactly the thing, we're making conclusions -- you're making conclusions tonight.

PAVLICH: I'm not making conclusions. I'm going based off of what we know. We know that he came back into the country and was arrested jumping the fence that is between the United States border and Mexico. We know that the rules under DACA, he would know this too because they're very detailed when they hand the status out, and if you're going to leave the country and come back, you must tell authorities that they know you're protected.

MACCALLUM: I think the larger issue -- there is a different game in town. And now the rules are the rules. It used to be that the rules were only the roles if you had a good enough story. If you have a good argument, and you could make your story, then there's an exception. But now, I mean, it's very clear there's a very different structure in place and you have to abide by the rules.

WRIGHT: Let's see what happens here. That's all anybody has asked, his attorney has filed, they're going to court to see what happens. This young man says he was picked up by border agents on bicycles and he didn't have his wallet on them. They took them to a detention center near the border at 1:00 AM, they ejected him from the country. If that's true, than he deserves a legal explanation for what happened.

MACCALLUM: Right. We'll follow it, we'll see what happens. Thank you very much, guys. Good to see you both tonight. Thank you. Still ahead tonight, a landmark case will be in front of the Supreme Court and it deals with religious freedom in this country. A lawyer representing the church in this case is going to lay it out for us tonight with his exclusive insight, and take a look at how justice Gorsuch will deal with this case. And Governor Rick Scott was alongside President Trump earlier today. They've signed a new bill to expand care for our veterans. He's here to tell us exactly how this effort is very different from what we have seen in the past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I know President Trump has been focused on our veterans and our military before he was president, and I know he's going to continue to do a great chat. We have 1.5 million veterans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Scandal still swirling around our V.A. hospitals, one is just a few miles from here and close to the White House. President Trump move today towards fulfilling a major promise on his agenda to the veterans, signing a bill which passed the House and the senate unanimously to improve care for our brave service members. Men and women who make it home but too often find too little support once they get here. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long and it's time that they are recognized and it's time that we now take care of them and take care of them properly. This bill will extend and improve the veterans choice programs so that more veterans can see the doctor of their choice. You got it? The doctor of their choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Joining me now, Florida governor, Rick Scott, who was by the president side today as he signed that bill and who is a veteran himself and very involved in health care and veterans issues. Good to see you tonight, governor. Thank you.

RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: It's great to be there today. My dad was in the ASEC and Airborne, did all the combat jumps, had an opportunity to serve -- in the navy. It's a great honor to have a president who cares about our veterans. It's a good day.

MACCALLUM: So tell me about what change for veterans today.

SCOTT: Well, you will have the opportunity to go to -- make sure you get care. If you want to go to a Veterans hospital, you can go there. If you need to go to another provider to get care, you can go there. So, it's the right thing for our veterans, they should be able to choose, there should be certainty of care, while we go through the process of figuring how to fix the V.A. system, it's got to be fixed. I had to sue the federal government under President Obama because they wouldn't let my agency going in and review the problems they're having, for dying, the waitlist, the poor care. And they told me, no, we don't need any help. They clearly needed help.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. And that's one of the biggest issues in terms of firing people and changing the system, and we reported last week on a hospital which I mentioned in the intro that's not far from here that's just has deplorable conditions.

SCOTT: You've got to be able to hold people accountable.

MACCALLUM: I just wonder how that still happening.

SCOTT: In any business you've got to hold people accountable.

MACCALLUM: Right.

SCOTT: So you want to find the best people, right? And you've got to constantly try to find better people to take care of people.

MACCALLUM: But the former V.A. said he couldn't fire anybody. Is the new V.A. -- is he going to be able to do that?

SCOTT: Long-term, he's got to be able to do that. I ran the largest hospital company in the country. You've got to be able to find better and better and better people and change. Change with the times. And so, I'm hoping Secretary Shulkin can do it. I'm optimistic that he can do it. But he's going to have the right to be able to pick his team.

MACCALLUM: They have to be able to fire people if they're not doing a good job. Talk to me a little bit about health care because as you say, you ran one of the biggest health care companies in the world, and I think a lot of people across the country are frustrated with the pace of the change in health care. The president says he was going to address it in the first hundred days, and we saw what happened in congress.

SCOTT: Absolutely. It's important to me. I grew up in a family that didn't have access to health care often. I watch my mom cry when my brother couldn't get help when he had significant disease. So we've got to figure out how to reduce the cost of health care. And we can't wait for this grand bargain. Let's do what people agree with now. Here's the mandate, here are the taxes, let insure it be sold across state lines. Let's start the process. We've got to get rid of ObamaCare. And we can't say, oh, we're not going to get this done. You can't. When you have a problem in business you'll say, oh, I can't get it done so I'll just close my doors. Work hard to fix it every day and chip away every day.

MACCALLUM: Are you optimistic because there was word today that they make get through repeal, the repeal part of this by next week. The 100 days is the end of next week.

SCOTT: They've got to repeal and they got to replace. They've got to make this better by reducing the cost. So U.S. and consumer can pay for it, your employer can pay for it, and all of us as taxpayers can pay for it.

MACCALLUM: So start dismantling, start doing what you can.

SCOTT: You got it. Do what people agree with and get it done now, and then go to the next thing. I've cut taxes 55 times in my state, I didn't do it my first day in office. I chipped away every year. Now we've cut $6.5 million in taxes, so that what you have to do.

MACCALLUM: Governor Scott, you've done a lot of things in your life, thank you very much. Good to have you here today, sir.

SCOTT: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So you do expect to see politics at play at the White House, but not necessarily when it comes to a sports team visiting, but that is what happened to some extent today when the New England Patriots came to town. Our friend, Jim Gray is here on what some of the team players decided to do. And next, it is being called the biggest religious freedom case of the Supreme Court session, and it just so happens to be one of the newly minted Justice Neil Gorsuch, who's first as a member of the court.
One of the lawyers who was arguing that case -- look at that beautiful shot outside the Supreme Court. When we come back, he's here, next.

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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are hoping the Supreme Court will do the right thing and fix the double standards because kids are kids and all kids deserve a big playground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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MACCALLUM: This a potentially landmark case at the Supreme Court right now bringing the issue of religious freedom front and center. As speculation abounds as to how the justices may fall on this. Most eyes tonight, of course, on the newest high court justice, Neil Gorsuch, hearing his most important case since he took a seat on the court. The closely watch debate centers around a preschool at Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri, which was denied state funds to improve the surface of its playgrounds because of its religious affiliations. Here now is the lawyer who argued that for the Supreme Court today, on behalf of the church, David Cortman of the Alliance Defending Freedom. So give us the basic argument, David.

DAVID CORTMAN, ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM: Sure. It just comes down to can the government treat people of faith as second-class citizens, and that's exactly what's going on. So they applied for this neutral benefit, and they grade better than everyone else, and then the state finds out that just because this preschool is run by a religious organization, a church, they disqualify them from receiving the benefits.

MACCALLUM: I would imagine kids from the town, and kids from all different faiths play on this playground, right?

CORTMAN: They do. That's exactly right. And most of the kids who attend the preschool are not even from the church, plus they open up the playground to all the community kids.

MACCALLUM: So in terms of how this -- how it was received today in the Supreme Court, you've argued cases in front of the Supreme Court before, so how does the court feel different today with Gorsuch involved?

CORTMAN: It's a different personality. Justice Scalia in such a vibrant personality, has a great sense of humor, he kind to takes over sometimes, and so that's sorely missed. Justice Gorsuch though is very engaged. We sat and watched him in the last couple of day in his arguments, he asked great questions, he has a good sense of humor, it seems like he's right at home even though he's newly on the bench.

MACCALLUM: So conservatives, obviously, believe that he won't make decisions in favor of protecting religious liberties. Did you get any feedback from him or feeling from him as to how he perceives this case?

CORTMAN: We did. And the reason was -- he didn't ask me any questions, which is usually a good sign, but he asked several tough questions of the state. And one of the question he ask is where you draw the line, if you say we're not going to fund religious organizations for neutral government benefits, where do you draw that line? Police and fire protection, what if there's safety issues at the playground here? All kids deserve a safe playground whether they attend a secular school or a religious school. So where does the state draw the line? And the state really didn't have a good answer for him.

MACCALLUM: So the governor in Missouri made a decision where he said that religious groups and schools can receive tax payer grants for certain projects including playgrounds, so doesn't that set a precedent that that money can be used for any sort of public area, including a religious area, and does not make this argument not needed?

CORTMAN: It was a political move, and while we certainly appreciate it, the problem is the state constitution in Missouri prohibits this. And so, there's already talk of challenging the governor's new policy, which will put the old policy back in place that requires this discrimination. So while we understand it was a political move, it won't last very long, it will be challenged and probably struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court, and that's why we need a decision from the United States Supreme Court to say this type of discrimination against people of faith is not permissible.

MACCALLUM: And you said it didn't feel in their as though the questions that they were asking necessarily divided them along party lines as people see the competition of the court right now.

CORTMAN: Right. People are predicting, oh, this is a close vote, it's 5- 4. We didn't see it that way. Really, the questions went across ideological lines and even several what would be considered the more liberal justices had a problem with the state's argument that you could discriminate against people of faith just because of their religious status, just because of who they are, and that certainly runs afoul.

MACCALLUM: So you're going to win, it sounds like?

CORTMAN: We hope so.

(LAUGHTER)

MACCALLUM: Mr. Cortman, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight, David.

CORTMAN: Good to see you.

MACCALLUM: Thank you for being here. So coming up next, President Trump doing one of his favorite activities, hanging out with winners today at the White House, the Super Bowl -- not the Supreme Court anymore, we're talking about the Super Bowl here, the New England Patriots hit the White House today, and while they were there some of them actually didn't show up, but they try to help out a little bit. We're going to explain to happen when sports analyst Jim Gray joins us, coming up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Whether you're trying to win a Super Bowl or rebuild our country, as Coach Belichick would say, there are no days off.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: We'll see what pans out in the negotiation. But I think there's an opportunity -- can I just.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Sean, need some help?

(LAUGHTER)

SPICER: I think I got this, but thank you. Maybe?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I like you.

SPICER: All right. Thanks, man. I'll see you in a minute. Hold on one second.

(LAUGHTER)

SPICER: All right. That was cool.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was pretty cool. Finally tonight, President Trump welcoming the Super Bowl champs, New England Patriots to the White House. And as you saw there, tight end, Rob Gronkowski offered to chip in with Sean Spicer today. Sean Spicer, by the way, a huge Patriots fan, so he was pretty happy about that, and there was the scene on the south lawn, but we know that some of the players decided to skip the ceremony, some of them even made a public video about why they were skipping the ceremony and making a political point. Jim Gray joins me now, sports analyst and Fox News contributor. Jim, good to see you as always. Some of the players were not there, some of them made a big show of talking about why they weren't there. And we also should mention that Tom Brady was not there today as well. Your thoughts on all that?

JIM GRAY, SPORTS ANALYST: Well, some of them wanted to make a political statement and there's been others in the past, even with President Obama when the '85 Bears went there, Dan Hampton didn't go, three of the Miami Dolphins were honored and they didn't go for the undefeated team under President Obama, so political statements have become within the realm in the past few years. And the guys that didn't go today, McCourty, Long, and Hightower, and Alan Branch didn't want to go. Tom Brady said he wanted to be with his family, his mother, Galynn, has been suffering from cancer, so he decided not to go and he thanked the president for having everybody as they have a long-term relationship, so his reasoning seemed to be valid to me.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, you look at that moment and you look at that political decision -- I don't know how you feel about it, but it seems to me that no matter who the president is, everybody ought to take that opportunity to come to the White House, which is a special opportunity and shake the president's hand, regardless of how they feel about him politically. What do you think?

GRAY: The fans don't want sports and politics. Going to the White House is an honor for the achievement that they have earned for their excellence. And to have all of this now thrown into it, the fans don't like it and, you know, obviously, all of us at one point or another, athletes, citizens, famous people, they don't agree with the policies of everything that ever president does, but in terms of something like this, it's an honor to go there. I believe that that honor should be upheld. And if you don't want to go, that's your right. And we've seen political statements in the past, nobody's forcing them to go, but I think it's something that you look back on. Today, one of the players, Malcolm Mitchell said that he never, ever thought growing up in Georgia that he would be mentioned by the president of the United States and just couldn't believe his ears when he heard it. That's what it's all about.

MACCALLUM: Very quick thought, Jim, on Aaron Hernandez before I let you go.

GRAY: It's tragic. The lives that he destroyed, the victims in this case, and now -- it is just so confounded, I don't think we'll ever have our arms around this, Martha, but I don't feel sorry for Aaron Hernandez. He's caused a lot of pain and destruction for a lot of people. But it is a sad and shocking ending to a life that's been a waste because he had a chance to lift himself out of this and even with a $40 million contract and catching a pass in the Super Bowl, he couldn't figure out how to get out of it.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. Tragic day in many ways, in many levels as you point out. Jim, thank you very much. It was a special day for the players that made that trip today to the White House, and it was fun to see them there. We had an opportunity to watch some of that. Have a great night. We'll see you back here tomorrow night for "The First 100 Days."

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