Fallout from Trump's 'America First' doctrine; Where is GOP with Trump's top agenda items?

Fox News contributor Karl Rove gives his take on 'The Story'


This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 29, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, international outrage with President Trump back in the United States after his first foreign trip sent shock waves through Europe and beyond. Good evening. I'm Sandra Smith in for Martha MacCallum, and this is a special edition of "The Story: America First, Home And Abroad." Over the weekend during the G7 summit, the President appeared to make good on promises made on the campaign trail and once he was sworn into office.

Mr. Trump putting allies and enemies alike on notice by bringing his America first doctrine to the world stage, but that did not sit well with some European leaders. Especially, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, who now says the United States, "is not a reliable partner to Germany and the rest of Europe," those comments has taken a step further by her Foreign Minister who said earlier today that President Trump has "weakened the West." In just moments, we'll be joined by Karl Rove and General Jack Keane on the impact of the America first policy overseas. But we begin tonight with Correspondent Rich Edson life in our nation's capital. Hi, Rich!

RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS CHANNEL NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Sandra. President Trump says his first overseas trip is a success and maintains he has delivered big results. Perhaps, one achievement is a prompting European leaders to look to one another instead of the United States. Trump has promised to push Europe to contribute more to its own defense. Last week, he, as previous Democratic and Republican administrations, chided NATO countries to spend more on their defense, and meet agreed-upon guidelines. They say it seems as though European leaders now believe the United States is less reliable. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe, as a result, must grow stronger.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over as I have experienced in the past few days. And that is why I can only say, we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands - of course, in friendship with the United States, in friendship with Great Britain, with good neighborly relations wherever possible.


EDSON: Merkel says Europeans will maintain friendships with the United States and Great Britain, even as the United Kingdom negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union. The President even shared a tense, lengthy handshake with newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron. He told a French publication, "my handshake with President Trump was not innocent, not the alpha and the omega of a policy, but a moment of truth. We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones."

And as the G-7 gathered in Sicily to discuss the Paris accord on climate change, Merkel says their discussion of that topic with President Trump left the group 6 against 1. The President says he will decide this week whether to withdraw the U.S. from that climate agreements. And so, a trip that began with a spectacular embrace in Saudi Arabia ends with some disagreements with the European democracies. Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Rich Edson, thank you. Here now to help us understand the fallout from President Trump's first trip abroad: Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush and a Fox News Political Contributor. Karl, let's get back to those words from Angela Merkel: "the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over. We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands." How do you think President Trump's America first message was perceived or received by these European leaders?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look, he didn't have the best and warmest welcome in Europe. But we should be careful not to make too much of what has just been said, but we shouldn't ignore the implications of it. Look, President Trump during his campaign said a lot of - a frequent punching bag was Angela Merkel. He ridiculed her immigration policies, declared her a failed leader, so, she's now in the election campaign of her own. So, we ought to be a little bit careful about reading into what he said during his campaign and reading too much into saying what she's saying during her campaign.

On the other hand, we need to be careful that this doesn't get worse. I thought President Trump made an excellent point when he went to Saudi Arabia and said the alliance of the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Egypt, and the United States, is vital to our interest and vital to yours. Well, he then went to Europe and we have - it's even more critical that we have an alliance - to sustain the alliance we have there with Europe through NATO. And it's been a great value to us for many years, it can continue to be a great value. The President ought to ignore the comments by Merkel in my opinion. And he delivered a tough message. He needs to follow up on left message. But he needs to look for ways to accentuate that the United States remains committed to its NATO allies and its NATO relationships.

SMITH: But he's coming home, Karl, to headlines like this one in the Atlantic, by David Frum: "Trump's trip was a catastrophe for U.S.-European relations." He went on that - in that piece to say Merkel has served formal notice that she will lead the German wandering away from the American alliance. Is that an example, to your point, a reading too much into this?

ROVE: I think so. And look, we've had relationships that have been problematic in the past. In Bush 43's Presidency, we had enormous problems with Iraq. And you know, we've seen this come and go. We had an excellent relationship with Blair; we had an excellent relationship with Merkel, but these things come and go. And what the President ought to do is ignore those kinds of comment, to the degree that you acknowledge them; they ought to be acknowledged privately by the State Department, the Defense Department, and acknowledged in a proactive way by emphasizing the commonality of our relationships and the common activities in which we are engaged.

In a way, our relationship with NATO is stronger today than it was said, a year or two ago. In part because of President Trump saying, I value this relationship enough that I want you to live up to your commitments, but also because, President Obama, towards the end of his term, began to do things to strengthen the relationship. We pre-positioned equipment for the Marines and NATO - excuse me, and Norway. We expanded the number of troops that we sent to NATO, rotated in and out the aircraft. And equipment that we rotated out for (INAUDIBLE) and the Baltics. So, you know, we're on a good path in many ways - let's not let this sort of recent disagreement over language in the reaction of the European allies to the speech obscure that.

SMITH: Some leaders were upset, of course, also to the lack of commitment from President Trump over the Paris climate agreement, for example. He delayed that decision. That's going to be a big one to watch this week but sum it up for us, Karl. How did his first trip go?

ROVE: Well, look, I think it went extremely well on the front end - namely, the visits and Riyadh and Jerusalem. It went OK and great visuals in Rome. It does not go as well in either the NATO meetings are the G-7 meetings, and the administration ought to pay attention to those and sure those things up. The President was right in making that charge to the Europeans; you need to live up to your treaty commitments.

I think it would have gone down better if had he done - it would've gone down much better in private, maybe not been as effective. But it would have gone down a little bit better if he made it publicly if he had reaffirmed our so-called Article 5 commitment: that attack on any NATO member is an attack on all. That probably would have made it a little bit better. But don't read too much into it, but look at the implications of what's playing out here and don't let it get worse.

SMITH: All right. Karl Rove, thank you. Good to see you.

ROVE: You bet. Thank you.

SMITH: Early this morning, North Korea launched a ballistic missile test - the nation's third in just three weeks. The missile launch coming just one day before the Pentagon will test a defense system aimed at taking down a warhead headed to the U.S. And just yesterday, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned about what could happen if North Korea continues its escalation.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It would be a catastrophic war if this turns into combat if we are not able to resolve the situation to a diplomatic means.


SMITH: Here now: General Jack Keane, the Chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, and a Fox News Military Analyst. Let me - General Keane, by the way, nice to see you on Memorial Day. No better way for me, and Fox News viewers to spend this day than hearing from you, a real-world General. General Keane, can I get, first, your reaction to North Korea's activity, the third ballistic missile test in just three weeks? How do you view this threat?

GEN. JACK KEANE, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST AND INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR CHAIRMAN: Well, it certainly is the acceleration of these missile tests that's got everybody's attention. We already know that they have nuclear weapons and they're attempting to miniaturize that weapon so they can affix it to a ballistic missile. So, what we're relying on, certainly, is political, diplomatic, and economic options which Secretary Mattis was talking about that and largely depending on the Chinese. But the reality is, is that no President can accept North Korea getting ready to launch nuclear missiles at U.S. bases, our allies, or the continental United States. We could not accept that. And that's what he is talking about.

What that would mean is we would launch a preemptive strike and that would have to be fairly comprehensive, to give our audience a sense of this. It would not just go at the launch facilities, but their nuclear capability - the other ballistic missiles, as much of their rocket and artillery arsenals as possible because they are all targeting the 10 million people that live in Seoul. And then we would go to Pyongyang and take down as much regime leadership targets as we could. That would be a very comprehensive attack by the United States on North Korea; to damage them as much as possible. They would come at us with everything they have left, and we would have a war with North and South Korea. The United States reinforcing South Korea and the Chinese, likely, reinforcing North Korea. This would be horrific. Nobody wants that.

SMITH: General - and you go back to Mattis' words on North Korea, saying it would be "catastrophic war," if this turns into combat if we are not able to resolve this through diplomatic means. What should be the next up by the United States here?

ROVE: Well, we're largely relying on China. The China has convinced the President that they intend to do something. Now, we have to be very clear- eyed with what's in it for China, because it is China that tolerated North Korea to have nuclear weapons. It is China that's tolerated North Korea to test ballistic missiles, and some of those ballistic missiles look remarkably similar to the ones that China already has.

So, we got to go into this thing, knowing that China may be gaming us a little bit here, and not give us the results that we want. And if that happens, then, we're going to have to be prepared to go it alone here and really slam hard on some sanctions on North Korea, to see if we can get their attention. Nothing has really ever worked with these guys in the past. So, that's why everyone is so concerned.

SMITH: And General Keane, I want to share with our viewers the reaction or the answer that Defense Secretary James Mattis gave when asked the question, what keeps you up at night? Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What keeps you awake at night?

MATTIS: Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.


SMITH: No hesitation there.

ROVE: That's my good friend Jim Mattis in the flesh and in the real - that's him, and it's really the message of United States. And we are the most powerful country in the world. We don't need to fear anybody, but we need to get our policies right. This President, I believe, has begun to do that, and reset the table, so to speak, for some failed policies of the past administration.

SMITH: And General, again, it is an honor to speak with you on this Memorial Day when we are remembering our heroes and the fallen. And interestingly, A.P. doing a piece today: "too many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning. It's become about beaches and barbecues and the beginning of summer." If so, if we could ask you what this day means for you?

ROVE: Well, I don't totally agree with that. I mean, I understand that there's a small percentage of the American population served in the military, less than one percent now. But I think people are aware of what Memorial Day is - that this is a most sacred day on the calendar, aside from religious holidays in my mind, because this is the day we set aside as a nation to remember those who gave up their lives for this great nation of ours.

I know the soldiers that I've lost - I know for a fact they didn't want to die. But the truth is, they were willing to. And that is what separates them from most of Americans, why we honor them so much. I mean, I've been in all of this all of my life, Sandra. They're willing to put everything that they care about at life, at risk: the opportunity to have a full life, to have a long life, to be a parent, the opportunity to have love in their lives, to love and to be loved. They put all of that at risk.

And why do they do that? I think there are two reasons. One, they first do it for one another. And then the second thing is that they do it out of an act of simply a profound sense of duty. And I believe this is true honor - and we in America will never take it for granted. We will never take their kind of devotion for granted. And so, we always will honor them on this special day, as our President did today, and people and communities all over America did, as well.

SMITH: A true honor to speak with you, sir. And we remember all of those fallen tonight. Thank you for being here and thank you for your service.

ROVE: Thank you, Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Well, tonight, new efforts from Democrats to recruit veterans to run for office in the hopes of thrusting back control of Congress in 2018. One former Navy SEAL says the military and the DNC have nothing in common - calling the effort "a waste of time," that debate ahead. Plus, President Trump standing by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, after a report he requested a back channel to communicate with the Russians late last year. As Democrats call for his security clearance to be revoked; we have new reporting tonight that shines a whole new light on this.


CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: These revelations about Jared Kushner trying to set up some kind of back channel to the Kremlin through the Soviet, and the Russian Ambassador. Your reaction to that, is there anything improper with that?


SMITH: Breaking tonight, the new fallout after multiple reports suggest that Senior White House Advisor, Jared Kushner, attempted to develop communications with the Russians through back channel efforts late last year. Democrats quickly seized on the reports, while Republicans in the White House are standing by Mr. Trump's son-in-law. Watch.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think any channel of communication, back or otherwise, which a country like Russia is a good thing.

SEN. BOB CORKE, R-TENN.: I think talking with him directly, and getting him to answer any and all questions as he said he would do, would probably be the prudent course of action.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: Trying to establish a back channel with the Russians, through a Russian diplomatic facility; you have to ask, well who are they hiding in conversations from?


SMITH: But tonight, Fox News' learning new developments about just who initiated the contact in question. For that part of the story, we go to Kristin Fisher from the White House with the latest. Kristin.


KRISTIN FISHER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Sandra, President Trump is defending his son-in-law, telling the New York Times that he still has total confidence in Jared Kushner. The Homeland Security Secretary is also defending him, saying that even if Kushner did try to set up a secret communications channel what the Kremlin, that it's normal and not that big of a deal. Tonight, Republican Senator John McCain said he doesn't see it that way.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: My view of the evidence, I don't like it. I just don't. I know that some administration officials are saying, well, that's standard procedure. I don't think it's standard procedure prior to the inauguration of a President of the United States, by someone who is not in an appointed position.

FISHER: Fox's Catherine Herridge is reporting a source close to Kushner says it was the Russians who first raised the issue of a secret communications channel with the Kremlin, not Kushner. And that it was only discussed in a single call about Syria, not as a permanent back channel - as the Washington Post which broke the story, alleged. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, who doesn't always agree with this administration, says the whole story line seems suspicious.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I don't trust this story as far as I can throw it. I think it makes no sense that the Russian Ambassador would report back to Moscow on a channel that he most likely knows we're monitoring.

FISHER: True or not, the negative press is casting a shadow over the Senior Advisor who once thought to be untouchable. Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff, is now calling for Kushner security clearance to be reviewed. He also wants to be testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Schiff says he fully expects that to happen. And tonight, a source close to Kushner says, he too, is eager to share his side of the story with Congress.


SMITH: All right. Kristin Fisher, thank you. Joining me now for more, Katrina Pierson, she served as the Trump Campaign's National Spokesperson; and Pablo Manriquez is a Democratic Strategist and co-founder of K Street Media. Good to have you here tonight. Katrina, I'll start with you first. The President, White House, making it very clear at this point that the President stands behind his son-in-law.

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN'S NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Well, Sandra, there's really no reason not to. I mean, we are simply talking about a story, but there is no story - even the New York Times article, in the third paragraph, said it was unclear who made this suggestion. Even leaking to the Washington Post story, Homeland Security John Kelly said he didn't have a problem with the allegation.

There was nothing illegal reported out of this meeting. And yet, we're talking about this as if something bad happened. Like, maybe for Americans those were killed in Benghazi or maybe sending a billion dollars to Iran to fund global terrorism. Are we seriously still talking about the Russians here?

SMITH: Pablo, you just heard all the reporting out of Fox tonight, there's no proof of any illegal activity, there is no crime, as Charles Krauthammer said multiple times in the last hour. But still, Democrats, even at this hour, calling for his security clearance to be revoked?

PABLO MANRIQUEZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND K-STREET MEDIA CO-FOUNDER: Absolutely. I mean, Charles Krauthammer is actually incorrect. And I know that doesn't happen very much, and I have a lot of respect for him. But when you go for a security clearance, they ask you to list different members of different governments you might have been in contact with. It's important that we know who you've been talking to so that we know who might want to leverage that against you when you're working in the highest reaches of power in the White House.

Now, Jared Kushner did not disclose that he had this meeting when he had to. Honestly, if I'm Jared Kushner, I am thinking to myself, why - you know, the American people deserve to know why he didn't disclose it, but it's like, come on, guys. I mean, this, this is why this President is having so much trouble getting anything done, it's because he gets bogged down in the mud of his own sort of mistakes. You know, I think ultimately, the only thing that's going to fix this is big a shakeup at the top of the White House.

PIERSON: What's really underreported though, Sandra, is that Jared Kushner was the first person to say that I will go in and I talk to any of the committees that are investigating this ridiculous allegation; he has never kept anything secret. He said he will meet anyone, anytime, for however long it takes to clear up this mess. He is the one person who has said that not everyone else has been able to do that. Hillary Clinton was under a criminal FBI probe; where were the Democrats then, asking for a subpoena, and asking for Intel Committee? We're talking about National Security.

SMITH: So, Katrina, let me ask you. Do we see any changes at the White House this week? Of course, the President was attending Memorial Day services today. Everybody goes back to work tomorrow. Amid all these reports of a possible White House shake-up, haven't heard that one before, but will there be any changes - any structural changes, reports that they are asking Kushner to stand down in the wake of all of this? The President's upset about that? And by the way, I'm going to point out to you, reports tonight that Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie were seen leaving the White House after West Wing meetings. I don't know. Katrina, has the band getting back together?

PIERSON: Well, only one person has the answer to that question, Sandra - and it is President Trump. Of course, he would bring in people that were with him from the beginning. I've always said that if you weren't with Mr. Trump prior to the Indiana primary, then you're probably not on his team. And I think there should be a shakeup at the White House starting at the very top, because what's happening today - especially, with all of these leaks, no one's been held accountable. And that's the Chief of Staff's responsibility, and I believe that needs to be addressed.

SMITH: All right. This week, could we see some changes, Pablo?

MANRIQUEZ: I think so. I think that this week, they're going to roll out Katrina Pierson as the new White House Press Secretary. I wrote - actually, Katrina, I wrote last year that you are one of the most powerful women in American media for the role that you had in President Trump's campaign.

PIERSON: Thank you.

MANRIQUEZ: I think like, you know, as a Web site - or as a White House rather, that's been having a lot of headaches from its current staff, I'm sure that you would bring a columnist to the role that it doesn't currently have.

SMITH: OK. I'll let Katrina respond to that.

PIERSON: Well, I appreciate that. We will fully, always be there to protect and defend Donald Trump, because what we know, unlike everyone else, is that all he wants to do is make America great again.

SMITH: All right. And that - OK. All right, thanks to both of you for being here tonight, good to see you both. All right, well, one media outlet taking the time this Memorial Day to hit to the Marine Corps over attitudes towards female troops. We bring you the debate over an ill- timed article. Plus, as we approach the summer months, renewed focus on President Trump's domestic agenda; where do Republicans stand with top ticket items like health care and tax reform? Can we expect movement before the August recess? We will discuss ahead.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So, we want to get back and keep on the track that we are on because the track that we are on is record-setting.



SMITH: Welcome back to this special edition of "The Story: America First Come Home And Abroad." So, the clock is ticking as Republicans work to provide some legislative victories ahead of the - in August recess and the President's next major mile-marker: his 200th day. Back on U.S. after nine days abroad, the Trump administration looking to get domestic, looking to its top two priorities: health care, and tax reform; goals they have been eyeing for a while now.


TRUMP: When we go for all of the things that we've been pushing so hard and so successfully, including health care, because Obamacare is collapsing. It's dead. It's gone. We need to cut taxes. We are going to cut taxes and that's what I want. It's going to bring back companies. It's going to bring back jobs. So, we want to get back and keep on the track that we're on because the track that we're on is record setting. And that's what we want to do is we want to break very positive records.


SMITH: Doug McKelway has the details of what lies ahead including the budget fights. Live from Washington, hey, Doug.

DOUG MCKELWAY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Sandra. President Trump has now returned to that domestic agenda, which remains gridlocked - gridlock in a dysfunctional Washington. His legislative priorities attacked relentlessly by Democrats, by Republican disunity, and by his own penchant for tweeting. It continued last night with this tweet, "suggest that we add more dollars to healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead. The Republicans will do much Better."

But that's not the message President Trump often conveyed when he wanted to cut healthcare cost and not the message that his party is still conveying. Republicans also remained divided over the president's budget. The chairman of the senate arm services committee noting that Mr. Trump's long-held promise of rebuilding the military falls short.


MCCAIN: It does not rebuild the military. It doesn't give us the ships and the numbers of personnel we need and the capabilities we need.


MCKELWAY: Meanwhile, Democrats are hammering the budget from the other side.


SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL., SENATE MINORITY WHIP: I do not believe you make America great again by cutting medical research to the lowest level in 12 years. I don't think you make America great again by saying to working families it's now more expensive for your kids to borrow money for student loans. You certainly don't make us a great nation by cutting back in infrastructure. All those three things are in the Trump budget.


MCKELWAY: And last week one of Democratic member of congress accused Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney of crafting a budget that is "morally bankrupt." Mulvaney fired right back.


MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET, DIRECTOR: Because right now, my unborn grandchildren are paying for it and I think that is morally bankrupt.


MCKELWAY: Congress has little time to tackle all of this big ticket items that has this week off, another week off for the 4th of July, and a six week August recess ending September 4th with only weeks to go before the fiscal year ends after that, Sandra.

SMITH: All right, Doug McKelway, thank you. Joining me now, Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Isaac Wright who is a Democratic Strategist, good to see you both.



SMITH: All right, congressman I'm going to start with you first. As Doug McKelway just laid it out, gridlock over President Trump's domestic agenda, is that fair?

DUFFY: Well, not really. We're moving at the pace of government, which is not lightning speed. We have to give credit where credit is due. The House passed the healthcare package, sent it over to the Senate. They're working on it right now. Next week - I'm sorry, in two weeks from now, we're going to bring up our repeal and replace of Dodd-Frank. It's going to come up the House Floor and go into the Senate. We're still working on tax reform.

So, yes the agenda is moving forward. The problem we have Sandra is a lot of the stuff is going to get to the Senate where they have these Filibuster rules. We need 60 votes or 8 Democrats to passing these bills and that's going to be incredibly tough. I think the Senate has to fix that rule, grease those kids (ph), go with the simply majority like the House, so we can start to move the Republican - the Trump Agenda forward.

SMITH: Your point is taking about government moving slowly, but Isaac, I'll point out that by this time in 2001, Bush's tax cuts had passed both in the House and the Senate. Are Republicans running out of time here?

WRIGHT: That's exactly right. It's been noted widely and openly, President Trump had the worst 100 days of any modern administration in the last 50-60 years. And the same is going to be true for the last - for the last 200 days as that anniversary comes up shortly upon us. And part of the problem is the policies at stake. It's not the rules, as the congressman mentioned. I think the problem is these are unpopular policies that are damaging to America.

SMITH: All right, congressman, you obviously have to respond to that.

DUFFY: So -- I do. So, think back, the first two years Of Barack Obama's presidency, they were able to jam through because they have 60 votes in the Senate, healthcare, Dodd-Frank, a stimulus bill America hated it. So, Republicans in response, have clean the house and the state government and the federal government. America wants Republicans to lead. They want us to fix healthcare. They want us to fix our budget. They want to fix us to fix the tax code.

We can't do that because Democrats have this block in the Senate. We need to open this up. If - and listen, it only takes 51 votes to change the rules of the Senate. Republicans can do this. Get rid of the Filibuster rule. Let's start moving legislation forward instead of the House trying to contort itself to try to deal with Senate rules...

SMITH: All right...

DUFFY:'s not working for the American people.


DUFFY: It's not moving generally forward, that have to change.

SMITH: ...but congressman...

WRIGHT: ...I didn't hear one word from - I didn't hear one word from the congressman's mouth defending these policies. For example, the proposed Trump Budget that he's about to vote on would cut the EPA about 31%. That means $51 million for his State of Wisconsin and the Department of Natural Resources there...

SMITH: All right...


SMITH: Hold on. Hold one. Let's go back congressman, there are two major agenda items obviously healthcare and tax reform, how important or I should first ask we're you going to see movement before the August recess, but let's talk Tax Reform. How important is it for this administration to get something done on tax reform by the end of the year?

DUFFY: It's incredibly important. I mean you start to grow the economy by making sure you reform the taxes and make America competitive again because of the funky rules in the Senate, we have to do healthcare first. Once health care is done, we use the savings off the ObamaCare taxes to start moving down the tax lovers of Tax Reform.

And so I think it's important we can get it done, but it's going to be complicated. In regard to the EPA and the Trump budget, I give a slow clap to the president. The EPA is standing in the way of progress and small businesses and innovation and creativity. Let's start cutting that budget and making sure they get back to business of keeping our water and air safe.


WRIGHT: ...test for lead and the water of you constituents. It's money that test for the lead and the water constituents from the Department of Natural Resources.

SMITH: All right, so Isaac how will - how will this president be judged - let's just go by end of year here these two major agenda items, there obviously is a bit of gridlock on these issues, is he being judged too harshly?

WRIGHT: Well, we see problems on the tax proposal namely, the fact that it's awfully geared to the top wealthiest 1%, who would see something like a 14% increase in their after-tax income. Middle-class families, the rest of us, the other 99% of America...

SMITH: Right.

WRIGHT: ...would see 1.2% to 1.8% bump compared to 14%...

SMITH: All right, well we obviously, you know, as far as those corporate tax cuts are concerned, small businesses and big corporations alike are welcoming them with open arms. All right, I've got to leave it there. Congressman...

DUFFY: Sandra...

SMITH: Five seconds.

DUFFY: One quick point, Corporate Tax Reform even Democrats agree with that...


DUFFY: ...we want to stop conversions where American business leave our country and go, tell the country with better tax codes. Isaac is wrong in it. Democrats agree with us.

SMITH: OK. All right, guys...


SMITH: Thank you for the debate. I got to leave it there, guys. Thank you. As President Trump marks his first Memorial Day as Commander-In-Chief, we'll bring you some of the scenes from his visit to Arlington National Cemetery earlier today.

Plus, Democrats still reeling for major 2016 Congressional Losses, hatching a new plan to take back the house in 2018, and fitting on this, it involves our nation's veterans. How will the GOP counter this move? Carl Higbie and Robin Biro debate next.


SMITH: All right, well developing tonight a new strategy from Democrats to wrestle Congressional control back from the GOP in next year's midterms. The party still struggling to unify is now turning to military veterans to join a 2018 ticket. Democrats say a candidate with a military background appeals to independent voters a key factor in taking back the White House.

Here now to debate those efforts, Former Navy Seal and Trump supporter, Carl Higbie and Robin Biro, Former Army Ranger and a Democratic Strategist. I'll start with you, first, Robin what is this new effort by Democrats to recruit veteran, tell us about it.

ROBIN BIRO, FORMER ARMY RANGER: You know, honestly, this is nothing new. Veterans have always been embraced by the Democratic Party. We pride ourselves on being the big 10 party. We've always welcomed to people of all races, religions, sexual orientations like I said, we are the big 10 party and that includes veterans. We have a huge veterans outreach. I'll tell you that Hillary Clinton actually had more veterans on her Facebook page than did Donald Trump. So, she had a huge outreach.

SMITH: OK, but there does seem to...

BIRO: ...this is not a partisan issue...

SMITH: a concerted effort in this case, though.

BIRO: There should be and you're right there should be because anybody who -- let me tell you this right now, the highest respected organization right now in the United States Country is the Department of Defense. It used to be the FBI, but I think they've now recently fallen out of favor somewhat because of recent turmoil.

So, that does make sense and I agree with you you're correct that these get more moderate voters, they get more independent voters. So, this is a very smart move. I, myself, come from the army branch of service where our army values are loyalty, duty, respect...


BIRO: ...selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage who would not want that in an elected official?

SMITH: All right, but Carl, what we do know is that Democrats are meeting with military vets trying to recruit them and hopes this is a good strategy for them for 2018, to this you say what?

CARL HIGBIE, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, I think that, you know, he mentioned all of those qualities but I don't think that's with the Democratic Party. I mean you have Tom Perez using profanity in front of 8-year-old children. I think long-time we've seen that the Republican Party recruits vast numbers of the military branch, almost 80%, and sure I follow the Hillary Clinton page because I wanted to know what the hell she was doing.

But if you're a military veteran out there right now, you can go to great and I will help you unseat some of these Democrats that are trying to take sheets away from the...

SMITH: OK, so to that point, Carl stay with you, how is the GOP going to combat this strategy on the part of Democrats?

HIGBIE: Well, I think this is something that the - I think the Republicans have actually taken for granted is the fact that Republicans will just always, you know, attract the veteran community. But the fact is, we do need to continue to and that's why I've reached out and started to recruit veterans right now because we are trying to get them to run and obviously they do make great candidates because they fought for their country. We want to keep them going. I think the morals of the military service coincided perfectly with our constitutional democracy.

SMITH: And...

HIGBIE: And - sorry, go ahead.

SMITH: And Robin, it does appear that this is yet another strategy that Democrats are trying to employ because they are still reeling from the 2016 losses.

BIRO: Absolutely. I don't dispute that. We are and we are looking for ways to organize and prepare for 2018 and 2020. And an obvious one is to go to our veteran community because they embody these values and a lot of us still have security clearances...

SMITH: And so what is the response that you're getting?

BIRO: The response I'm - that a full speed ahead with veterans and their service that they've been honorably discharged, full speed ahead. We are ready to work with you. I, myself, am political director for the Fulton County Democratic Party and we are actively recruiting veterans who have honorably served and we honor their service.

I want, at this point, to recognize my Airborne Ranger in the sky, Sergeant First Class, David McDowell who died in his seventh combat mission in Afghanistan at 30 years old. So, I just wanted to do that on Memorial Day. It's important to me, but you know, the Democratic Party, like I said, this patriotism doesn't know a party.

SMITH: Right.

BIRO: We are both very patriotic parties.

SMITH: Well, thank you and we will remember him. We've got to leave it there and thanks to both for joining us.

HIGBIE: Thank you, Sandra

BIRO: Thank you.

SMITH: As Americans observe this solemn day, one left-wing website using this as an opportunity to disparage an entire branch of the armed forces. We'll explain just ahead.


SMITH: That's a new recoding ad from the U.S. Marine Corps and the first of its kind focusing on a female marine in combat. It comes as the corps faces new scrutiny over alleged sexism within its ranks. And today on Memorial Day, a Liberal website decided this was the appropriate day to shine a spotlight on the issue tweeting the Marine Corps has a "toxic masculinity problem".

Guy Benson is a political editor for Townhall.Com and a Fox News Contributor. Guy, this seems incredibly insensitive to have this article and then publish it on Memorial Day and they were honoring our fallen heroes, many of them coming from the Marine Corps.

GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. So, look, I comment this as a layperson and a civilian. I've never served in the military nor has anyone in my immediate family. But, we're all so thankful, especially on a day like today to those who have and who continue to do so.

As a journalist, I have no problem with scrutiny or criticism of any institution in America. That's how we do things in this country including the U.S. Marine corps, which overall is just so - is so revered and for very good reason. For me, though, it's not a beef with the fact that Vox, which is the website, would ever criticize the Marine Corps. It's the timing.

We come in America have one day out of 365 every year, where we set it aside to remember with gratitude the people who have died in our military defending our freedom. And to tee up this day story for this day is I understand why people are really objecting.

SMITH: General Jack Keane was on at the top of the hour so this is the most sacred holiday in America other than religious holidays.

BENSON: I think that's a very fair assessment.


BENSON: Because, we're a country that is so blessed that we're protected by a tiny fraction of our population. Only about 7% of all Americans alive today ever served in the military and the number who are active duty today is a fraction of that. So, we get to enjoy this freedom 365 days a year because of very few people, some of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice. We devote to this day to them and their memory and I think to go with this story and run it with this timing, I question.

SMITH: Not to mention, it's pointing out problems at the Marine Corps knows it has and is addressing currently arguably could address more...


SMITH: ...and that is a continual debate but even today, women make up only 8.3% of the corps, that is acknowledged. That is a constant debate. So, to release this article that doesn't actually break any news or bringing a new information, it's simply analyzing what we already knew, it's even more insensitive.

BENSON: Yes. No one is going to defend for example the nude photo scandal where you have about 30 U.S. Marines under Court Marshals, those are bad apples and hardly Representative of the Marine Corps as a whole, but to your point, it's not like the Marines have no idea that this might be a challenge...

SMITH: Right.

BENSON: ...that's the whole point of the ad. The ad is to try to recruit more qualified women. And so -- that also seems like an ad hoc for a piece attacking the Marines.


BENSON: Because the hoc is this ad.

SMITH: Yes. And the article explains itself basically and all that but the battle on - the battle is on female troops obviously. The article - we're clearly stating is ill time, we're in agreement on that. Guy Benson, it's good to see you today.

BENSON: Good to see you.

SMITH: All right, thanks for being here. Well, up next, the story of a little boy who stole our hearts and it would seem the president as well this Memorial Day.



TRUMP: Here at this hollowed shrine, we honor the noblest among us, the men and women who paid the ultimate price for our victory and for freedom. We pay tribute to those brave souls who raced into gun fire, roared into battle, and ran into hell to face down evil. They made their sacrifice not for fame or for money, or even for glory, but for country.


SMITH: That was President Trump today at Arlington National Cemetery. Afterwards, he visited Section 60 Burial Ground for military personnel killed after 9/11. There, he greeted loved ones of the fallen and met a very special little boy, 6-year-old Christian Jacobs, was just a baby when his dad, Marine Sergeant Christopher Jacobs, was killed in a training accident.

Each year, little Christian visits his dads, places rocks on the tomb stone and his mom tell us he even put flowers on other graves. Christian is often spotted wearing a uniform and delights in being told he looks just like his dad. To Christian, his mom, Brittany and all those whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice, we salute you, and thank you.

That's going to do it for us tonight. Thank you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And be sure to catch me every day at noon eastern on "Outnumbered." I'm Sandra Smith, in for Martha MacCallum tonight. Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend. Tucker Carlson is up next.

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