Transcript

Should Republicans punt on health care reform?

'The Fox News Specialists' debate whether the GOP should push efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare until after the 2018 midterm elections

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Fox News Specialists," June 28, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KATHERINE TIMPF, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kat Timpf along with Eric Bolling and Eboni K. Williams. We are "The Fox News Specialists." A new deadline for Senate Republicans health care bill after delaying a heath care vote yesterday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is now pushing to get a new health care deal in place Friday. That's after nine Republican senators have now expressed opposition to the original legislation. President Trump sounded an optimistic note on the bill future this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're working very hard. We've giving ourselves a little bit more time to make it perfect. That's what we want to do. I think this has a chance to be a great health care at a reasonable cost. People can save a lot of money. We get rid of the mandates. We get rid of so much, got rid of a lot of the taxes. All of the bad parts of ObamaCare are gone. It's essentially a repeal and replace. And I look forward to working with Republican senators over a short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIMPF: What they're doing is tough because good health care, reasonable cost, and when you add some of these extra things for free, the prices are going to go up for everyone else. You can't deny that.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: I love that first line of your read. You said it was a deadline that was approaching on Friday because the leadership on Senate leader Mitch McConnell put a deadline on it. Think about what that means for a second. It's 1/6 of the American economy, over a trillion dollars per year at stake, and the leader of the Senate who doesn't have the votes to pass it now is putting a two day deadline on fixing something so important. They really need to take time. Put that aside for a while, get on to the other things, tax reform, infrastructure. Hit health care later.

EBONI K. WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: I really wish they would listen to you, Eric, because, honestly, that makes the most sense when the president says a little bit of a deadline. I mean, my goodness, two more days. I don't know how you're going to get very far right parts of the GOP and very kind of moderate parts that have their own issues with this thing anywhere close to the same page in a matter of 48 hours.

TIMPF: My prediction is you're not.

WILLIAMS: OK.

TIMPF: You're not going to be able to that.

WILLIAMS: I'm going to put my money on that, Kat.

BOLLING: I would bet on that too. I'll put my money on Kat.

TIMPF: All right. Well, let's meet today's specialists. He is a former college football player, a 20 year Wall Street veteran, and a member of the Trump Hispanic advisory council, but he specializes in defending President Trump against the mainstream media, Steve Cortes is here. And he's a former police officer, a Hollywood writer, and a former FBI counterterrorism agent, and he specializes in ending the careers of criminals, Tim Clemente is here. Health care, I feel like we're talking about this forever. We've been talking about this for seven years. I feel like they should have had something by now.

STEVE CORTES, TRUMP HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBER: Right. And Kat, should have and have to, by the way. I really believe this. The American people gave a mandate to the Republican Party by giving them both houses of congress and the White House. They gave the kids the keys to the car, all right. The car has to get out of the garage and it's got to get in to gear. And if it doesn't, by the way, I think the consequences in 2018 for the Republican Party will be dire, and they should be, quite frankly.

BOLLING: I think it would be more dire if they do push it through.

TIMPF: But their picking on 4th of July vacation still. I mean, are they going to find the answers inside a hot dog at a barbecue or what?

BOLLING: Let's address the politics of this for a second. Let's say they go ahead and -- you take this deadline and somehow they twist enough arms, make enough backdoor deal, they get the votes to pass TrumpCare health care. By the way, this isn't TrumpCare. This has nothing to do with Donald Trump. They get the votes. They go to 2018, through 2018, premiums are rising. Now the Democrats are tattooing the Republicans with the terrible health care problem. They own the problem right now as Democrats. Let them have it through the midterms.

WILLIAMS: Let me tell you though, Eric. You're right. Technically President Trump doesn't have anything to do with it. He can't run away from it though. The labeling is going to be there. This will be TrumpCare all day long to those that are not paid.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: And for the reason, keep it ObamaCare until you get through the midterms, and then turn it to something better.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: Also, Eric, you are right in some respects, Trump doesn't own this because the Republicans much before Donald Trump even got to politics, right, have been talking about repealing and replacing ObamaCare. However, having said that, I believe the holy grail of the Trump movement is not health care, it's taxes.

BOLLING: Thank you.

CORTES: And health care is going to make it easier though to get to tax cuts. And if we get the tax cuts, and we will, I believe, and this economy starts truly growing, truly growing again, enough of this mediocrity of one and two percent growth. Even if the health care bill isn't perfect at that point, I believe in the 2018 and beyond the American people are going to be so refreshed and invigorated and believing in the Trump movement.

BOLLING: You can go to tax care reform without health care reform first.

CORTES: We can. Now, we can't make it permanent, but that's OK.

WILLIAMS: So, yes, we can.

(CROSSTALK)

TIMPF: I'm going to get you here real quick because I feel like, yeah, it doesn't have to be perfect, maybe, but this is a lot of the same problems. And if this falls apart, we're going to have single-payer.

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: What Steve said the analogy of this is giving the keys to the car to the kids. It's like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" right now because the way -- it's not so much the administration but the leadership on the hill is not pushing for what they said was going to be their signature thing once they have the house, the Senate, and the White House. And they're just -- they're totally disjointed between the two sides of the house. The Republican hill is falling. And Republican leadership either needs to wake up and realize what the American people did put Donald Trump in the White House to do, and allow him to take part in this process to show leadership.

BOLLING: One hundred percent accurate. Look at the house bill and Senate bill, this are both leadership generated bills, not the general population of either body of congress.

CORTES: I think in many ways this is really the swamp at its worst.

CLEMENTE: Exactly.

CORTES: Somebody should write a book about the swamp.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: I really mean that because I believe a lot of Republicans, while they won't say this publicly, privately they're OK with the status quo. They're OK with the tax codes generally.

WILLIAMS: You think?

CORTES: They're OK with health care. They really are, sadly. I hate to say that.

CLEMENTE: Are you talking about Republicans on the hill?

CORTES: Yeah, on the hill.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: I'm saying that, I don't think they still quite understand the electoral revolution that happened in this country in 2016. I don't think they understand the angst, the anger.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: . opportunity on the upside of what we can do in this country if we start growing again the way we did in the '80s, and the '90s, and we can get there. I'm still confident we will.

WILLIAMS: Perhaps there's still resentment though, Steve, around the fact that when you 17 Republicans on a stage, the one that didn't represent the status quo.

CORTES: Sure.

WILLIAMS: . the one that didn't really kind of come from their fabric is the one that prevailed. And so, as an outsider looking in to the party, maybe there's still some resentment or something, or certainly this lack of understanding when it came around that issue.

CLEMENTE: Absolutely. I think because he's an outsider -- I mean, Donald Trump is not a politician, and Donald Trump is president because he's not a politician. I think those are two clear facts that everybody can agree on. And I believe on the hill, especially, those people that are part of the swamp are also part of the country club. And now you have a guy that came in to the country club over the wall, through the fence, and drove his pickup truck across the.

TIMPF: I'm going to push back on that a little bit because I don't necessarily think that the people who are opposed to the health care bill, specifically, are opposed because they resent Trump. I think that they are a little more strict in terms of being small government conservatives. I think that their records dictate that that's what it's about.

(CROSSTALK)

TIMPF: Again, except for -- in some cases, people who have become more liberal. But, I'm saying -- the majority don't talk about the Paul's, and the Lee's, and the Cruz's. It's got nothing to do with a personal vendetta.

BOLLING: They're go ahead and trying to appease the Paul's, and the Lee's, and the Ted Cruz's.

TIMPF: And the moderates.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: Can we just take it around. Let's play politics for 5 minutes here. Let's say they do side -- put the health care agenda, strategy, aside for now. Then they pushed through, and it's important, Eboni, because they pushed through tax reform which the Republicans love, but they tie it with infrastructure which the Democrats love, so now you have two major plans that could go forward. And guess what, health care doesn't happen, but you have both sides of congress saying we've got a win out of this. How is this not -- makes sense?

CLEMENTE: It's a major win in both ways because the two things that you're talking about both the economy and the infrastructure are things that Donald Trump are saying are related because he wants private investment in infrastructure. Well, guess what, if you allow tax cuts that allow more people to have more cash freed up, then those people, especially ones who can afford to join infrastructure, are the ones that can and will.

WILLIAMS: Eric, you're talking about putting actual points on the board. That's what you're proposal would do, I think.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: We're talking about an extra point on safety. We're talking -- you know a touchdown.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: And instead of that I think people are thinking, oh, the political payoff for finally repealing and replacing. That's been the establishment and the party's big promise. But you're right, that's different from Donald Trump's big promise.

BOLLING: Steve, how is that not a win for everyone?

CORTES: I think it is a win. And my guess is, if this doesn't happen quickly, health care, I think that will be the plan of the White House. I don't know that. But I believe that would be the plan and probably should be. You know, I would also say this. It is so important -- the lack of growth underlies so many of the problems facing our country, so many. I think the division we have, the anxiety in the country, opioid abuse. So many things are from a lack of growth, lack of opportunity. What will most induce growth and compel growth? Tax cuts. We have to get to tax cuts.

TIMPF: I'll never understand why they didn't start there instead of going with health care when they don't even know what they want to do with it.

WILLIAMS: Political seduction.

BOLLING: Here's why. Here's exactly why.

TIMPF: Doesn't seem people are making them look very good politically now.

BOLLING: Tim will confirm this. Here's why. Paul Ryan guaranteed -- he went to the White House and said I have health care. I have our body ready to vote on health care. They're onboard. They're in favor of it. And he was wrong. And so he put the presidency in the crosshairs for the Democrats. He's the reason why they started there. They never shouldn't -- you're a hundred percent right.

TIMPF: Yeah. They have no idea what they're doing. And when you talk about vote now, just centering around this vote, we've got to get this out before vacation. Sorry, but this is disgusting. That's disgusting. You need to say, got to get this out because this is so good that we need this for the American people. That's not what I'm hearing. I'm hearing we've got to get this out because I have to go to my family barbeque. I don't care about that.

CORTES: They don't deserve a break.

TIMPF: Right, I agree.

CORTES: . they don't deserve a trip to the beach. I wrote an article about this on real clear politics, if you don't get these things done, no vacation. Who takes August off? I don't take off on August. What are we, Europeans? I mean, we don't take all of August off. The congress should absolutely -- the leadership has any real backbone and they actually care about what the people said in 2016, the hill leadership will say no break. It will be like a high school lock in. Nobody is getting out of here. They're lock in.

TIMPF: Because when they were trying to get votes, they kept saying this is so important. This is the most important. And now it's like, OK, but not as important as my cheeseburger on the fireworks. You know, it's so disingenuous.

WILLIAMS: You know what it is, Kat? I think they expected people to fall in the party line and everybody was going to rally around this in some cohesive way and that's not happening. People are looking back at their constituents at various points and saying, you know what, I'm going to be accountable and I'm going to be the one to pay a price and they're not going for it.

BOLLING: Can I give you another theory that -- ascribe to? The leadership on both sides, the house and the Senate, are establishment, old-school Republicans that have been there forever. Who are the anti-Trumper's leading up to it?

WILLIAMS: That's what I'm saying.

BOLLING: Old-school establishment Republicans. I wouldn't put it past them to say, hey, look.

WILLIAMS: You don't think this is sabotage?

CORTES: It's a lack of leadership.

BOLLING: That could be a part.

(CROSSTALK)

CLEMENTE: Look at James Mattis at DOD. Look at the leadership he provides. He comes out and says things and the military backs up behind him. There's no commander that ever counters what James Mattis says. There's nobody literary up and down the whole line of chain of command. That's leadership. You don't have that behind Ryan. You don't have that behind Mitch McConnell.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: And I hate to say this as a lifelong Republican. I never vote a friend -- Republican. I think they're OK, secretly, with the status quo. But having said that, before we work ourselves into too much of negativity here, it is going to get done, I do believe that. And through Trump's leadership, it's ugly to watch the hour by hour process day by day of legislation. It's ugly. It's inefficient. It's supposed to be to some degree in a democracy. We're going to get there. We're going to get health care. We're going to get tax cuts. The future is bright.

TIMPF: We'll see. All right. Well, the house is set to vote on two big ticket bills to crackdown on illegal immigration. Will Kate's law and defunding sanctuary cities finally come to pass? Right back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: This week, house Republicans are expected to follow through on promises to crackdown on undocumented immigrants, with most on two major pieces of legislation, Kate's law and a bill on defunding sanctuary cities. Now both bills have received strong support from President Trump who's with the victims of immigration crimes this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am especially honored to be here with so many courageous families whom I did get to know so well over the past period of time. You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation's immigration laws. And that is even the existing immigration laws. For years, the pundits, journalists, politicians in Washington refused to hear your voices, but on Election Day 2016, your voices were heard all across the entire world, right? You better believe it. Nobody died in vain, I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: OK. Eric, he has to start this this way. This is brilliant. We all know about the tragedy of 32-year-old, Kate Steinle, being killed in San Francisco by -- not only undocumented, 7-time felon, deported 5 times, and yet came back to this country. But this is what I want to pivot you on this. Most of the Democrats have been resists, resists, resists, this entire Trump administration. However, on this issue, Kate's law in particular, you've got the Democratic congressman saying Kate's law is more complicated and I encourage everyone to look at it and reach their own conclusions. So this is one space that even they are getting that that resist, resist, resist will not work because this is humanizing this issue in a way that we really haven't seen done before.

BOLLING: So you have two issues, Kate's law as you point out, if you have been deported, you commit a crime, you've been deported, you come back and you get caught a second time.

WILLIAMS: Mandatory minimum.

BOLLING: . mandatory five years in jail. That's a deterrent I think we can all wrap our brains around. Here's the thing as a Democrat, do you vote against something like that?

WILLIAMS: That's what I'm saying. I don't think many of them can because of the human nature of this, Steve. This is connected, not just to policy and going up at 30 thousand feet. This is on the ground. Everyone knows the narrative of the crime, broken apart families from people being deported. But what about the families that are broken apart because someone killed their loved one who shouldn't have been hear in the first place.

CORTES: And unfortunately broken apart for good. I care a lot about this story, Eboni, and this theme. As a Hispanic, I spoke about it a ton during the campaign for Donald Trump because -- by the way, this is another irony here, the left tries to paint Donald Trump because of his assault on sanctuary cities and crackdown on dangerous illegal aliens as though he's somehow anti-Hispanic. Well, the victims are often Hispanic of these dangerous people. There's another terrible case in California, is a woman name Sandra Duran, wonderful, legal immigrant, wife, mother, who was killed by -- similar story, by somebody who had been deported five times.

CLEMENTE: How about, most recently in the news in the Washington, D.C. area just last week. A 17-year-old Muslim girl during Ramadan goes to break the fast with friends of hers, riding their bikes and walking to a place to eat, a block away from their mosque, when an illegal immigrant with a baseball bat ends up beating her, sexually molesting her, and dumping her dead body in a pond. This family now -- basically, Ramadan has ended on Sunday, and it's like their Christmas, the eve has now come. And this poor family is suffering, they're immigrants, they're suffering because of an illegal who is a criminal.

TIMPF: I guess I would just like to see -- none of these are things that can be argued against. I would like to see where the funding for it will come from because there's already a huge amount of federal resources that goes toward people who are deported and reenter, but only a small percentage of them are actually prosecuted because they don't have the resources. And in terms of five years not being enough, I'm not sure. If you get kicked out, your family is still there. I don't know. Five years might be worth the risk to you. Certainly, I have questions about how this will look implemented, I certainly have no qualms about wanting to punish people who come here illegally and then commit a crime. I don't have any sympathy for you. It's not that hard to not go to jail. I've managed to never do it, and I have a very good time.

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: So here's the good news is that since taking office in just 6 months, mostly just through rhetoric, frankly, Donald Trump has largely secured our border. ICE tells us that illegal crossings are already down 70 percent year over year. I mean, that's what leadership can do.

BOLLING: Can you imagine -- and by the way, we're talking about repeat criminals.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: I am talking about violent criminals.

WILLIAMS: Eric, I completely agree. But this is where I do think some of these dueling narratives come into play. I think, you know, I've been very consistent. You're a violent criminal you have no place in our American fabric. However, those -- their only crime is coming here illegally, and that is still a crime, absolutely to the letter of the law it is. But I think there's something to be said for prioritizing who gets out first. But I want to ask you about something else, Eric, and that's the other legislation that's proposed the sanctuary cities. Now a lot of people have mixed feelings on this when it's not as clear-cut as Kate's law. Some people say an unintended consequence of this sanctuary city issue is people will not report violent crime or other crime as much because they are nervous about being deported if they do. Your answer to that.

BOLLING: I'm probably a little but towards the left of most conservatives on this. I wanted to see -- look, here's the thing, there's not that much funding currently for sanctuary cities. They're earmarking some very small dollar amounts that we end up paying sanctuary municipality cities for holding criminals -- for the process.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: You wanted to go hard-core, pullback highway funding. Pull back other types of federal funding to these states that harbor sanctuary cities.

CORTES: I hate the term. Sanctuary for whom? I mean, sanctuary for the criminal, not for the victim, right? So, other than Chicago which is a sanctuary city, Rahm Emanuel spends more time talking about sanctuary cities that he does solving the very real violence issues on the west side of our cities.

WILLIAMS: By the way, it's only conveniently now a sanctuary city that the demographic shows (INAUDIBLE)

CORTES: Hispanics, this is interesting, a poll recently, twice as many Hispanics, legal Hispanics.

WILLIAMS: They're legal, yeah.

CORTES: Twice as many legal Hispanics thinks that our immigration enforcement is is too lax as compared to.

WILLIAMS: Who? Because they done it the right way and stood in the line and got their turn. Straight ahead, Sarah Palin slapping the New York Times with a defamation lawsuit over a botched editorial. How strong is her case? We'll tackle it, moments away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLLING: Check that out. This young man just showed up with a poster. How cool is that? I'm so happy for that guy. That's so cool. Thank you very much, pal. All right, Sarah Palin is taking on the New York Times, hitting the paper with a defamation lawsuit. Earlier this month, it published an editorial falsely linking her to the 2011 shooting of then Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, which the paper later corrected. The Times editorial came after this month's shooting of house majority Steve Scalise. But, can Governor Palin prove the Times purposely published false information to defame her? With Eboni first, defamation is a false statement that damages someone's good name and reputation, but this is on an editorial page, and editorial is opinion. And God save us if we're going to start holding opinions at that level.

WILLIAMS: Brilliant analysis, Eric Bolling. There's certain defense in opinion, the other one can be retraction. You know, they called themselves out at some point because they knew that she hadn't done this, by the way, when they said that. They put in the retraction, so I do think legally this would be difficult for her. I expect a settlement of some sort and it should go away.

BOLLING: What do you think, Kat? They left it up for quite a while on the website though.

TIMPF: Yeah. I also feel like you have to have a special kind of mental defect to sit down and write a piece about a Bernie bro shooting a Republican congressional leader and have it somehow turn out to be a smear piece about Sarah Palin. How does that even happen? What is wrong with you? If you're going to publish something that serious, an accusation that's serious, try Google first. Spend a little time with Google and make sure that you're right.

CORTES: That's the amazing thing, it's the laziness.

TIMPF: Right.

CORTES: I think it's not just the left has a Trump derangement, which I think they do or an anti-wright derangement, it's the pure laziness. A simple Google would have shown them that this is not the case.

BOLLING: Do you remember the original -- the 2011 piece that -- it blew up right away. It was during a campaign, and what Sarah Palin did was she put house seats that were available to Republicans if they could win. And she puts a circle -- it looked like a target, I will be honest with you. But why wouldn't you target a district?

CLEMENTE: Yeah, exactly. They were targeted districts for the Republicans, and that is completely different than putting a crosshair on Gabby Giffords forehead, as a lot of the left media did when that story came out. And the problem with this story is, exactly what Eboni just said, they knew it was not true when they published it. Unfortunately, that's what Sarah Palin would have to prove in court in order to win a defamation suit like this because their intent is what matters. The effect isn't what matters. It's their intent.

WILLIAMS: That's exactly right. And, look, again, I think their intent was suspect at best. But again, the fact that they did put the retraction in, it was the editorial page, as Eric points out. I don't think this is a slam dunk case for her. But, look, I think the New York Times credibility has been damage so tremendously for the past 18 months, and this doesn't help.

CORTES: And Eboni, I think that's more important. She probably doesn't win legally. I'm not a lawyer like you, but I don't think she'd win legally.

But the more important think, I think, is that we're making a point of the American people that, by the way, when Trump says fake news, he's not lying. This has been a very good week for Trump in that regard. Between this lawsuit, between CNN, between what Project Veritas has shown us about CNN, this wasn't a paranoia on Trump's part. OK? There is fake news out there, and there is such antagonism and laziness in the mainstream media that they will go to almost any means, even disingenuous ones, to try to make the president and his allies look bad.

BOLLING: Can we -- producers, can you throw up that Bernie SOT, if you can? If you can get to it, great. If you can't, let me know. But in the meantime, Kat, so let's take -- let's give The New York Times -- let's do this. Take a listen to this. I think you'll reference something to this effect. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT.: My wife is about the most honest person I know. It is a sad state of affairs in America, not only when we have, you know, politicians being destroyed, public -- when there are attacks against elected officials, but you go after your wife, people's wives, that is pretty pathetic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: But she did something wrong. She's alleged to have done something wrong.

TIMPF: Yes, I think that's a completely different thing. Right? Than just going after some random -- well, we'll see what happens. I don't know.

WILLIAMS: But that's different than what happened to Ted Cruz's wife during the primary.

TIMPF: Completely different. They're looking into -- they're investigating something. I don't know if it's true or not.

CORTES: It's a misdirect from Senator Sanders.

TIMPF: It's different than randomly insulting somebody.

BOLLING: They're not making fun of her or...

CORTES: No, they're not.

BOLLING: ... calling out some physical thing about her. They're saying she's under investigation for doing something wrong.

CLEMENTE: And this happens. I mean, we look at -- there's stories about the FBI this week. Andy McCabe, the acting director of the FBI, his wife haven't gotten funds from the governor of Virginia, who was a very big Clinton ally. And he's responsible for the investigation of Hillary Clinton.

WILLIAMS: We have to vet our spouses much more carefully.

CLEMENTE: We should.

WILLIAMS: Certainly. Look at poor Huma Abedin. She's still paying the price for the man she married.

CORTES: I think the bigger point here is the hypocrisy of Bernie Sanders, right? If his wife did what is alleged, it shows that they sure were pretty darn greedy, right? For people who claim they don't care about money. He has three homes. He's made a ton of money off of book sales. It's -- to me, it's the hypocrisy and even more so, by the way, if I'm going to throw a stone at him, it's for -- why is he not speaking out against the DNC now that he has full knowledge that they colluded in every single way against him? How are he and his supporters not irate over that? How do they sell out?

BOLLING: Eboni, can we -- very quickly. We only have a couple seconds. But why did Bernie Sanders' wife sign for the loan that they were going to use at the house, other than to shield him from liability?

WILLIAMS: That's exactly why. Because she wanted to assume that liability, still be detached from his political aspirations.

TIMPF: Of course he loves money. Who doesn't love money?

CORTES: He's in the public eye.

BOLLING: Yes. Except the socialists. I love money.

WILLIAMS: ... that's what it is.

CORTES: Socialism only works academically.

CLEMENTE: He likes your money.

BOLLING: Right. He loves your money. All right.

The commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific delivering an ominous warning over ISIS and its new campaign to establish beachheads in East Asia. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: Welcome back to "The Fox News Specialists." Our specialists today are Steve Cortes and Tim Clemente, and we will continue the conversation.

Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, sounding the alarm about ISIS's campaign to seize new territory. During remarks in Australia, the admiral warning ISIS is aggressively trying to establish fresh beachheads across East Asia and that brazen offensives by ISIS-linked militants in the Philippines should be a wake-up call for the entire region.

Eric, we kind of have been seeing this coming now. We talk about the whack-a-mole process. We see ISIS being pushed out in some places only to now pop up here in South Asia.

BOLLING: Let me take a little different tack on that. That sounded horrible. It's actually good news for the United States that ISIS is saying, "We are looking to Asia. We're going to look into expanding into areas that we haven't been before," instead of saying, "Hey, we're focusing on getting our" -- remember a year ago they were saying, "We're going to infiltrate the refugee program into the United States, do everything we can, kill westerners, kill Americans if you can."

WILLIAMS: Right.

BOLLING: It's a different tack for them. And maybe, maybe just maybe they're seeing some of the initiatives that Trump is establishing as a deterrent to them trying to waste the resources here.

TIMPF: OK. Or they want to go to that area and then come over there from here, because they're not covered by the travel ban there.

CLEMENTE: I don't think they're stopping what they are doing initially. The problem with ISIS and the problem with that ideology is it's just that, an ideology. And it's a disease that can be spread. It's airborne; it can be spread through the Internet, unlike any other disease, and it's a disease that you cannot stop. There is no cure for it. No known cure now.

And the problem is there are beachheads in East Asia. But we have beachheads in East Asia, so they will be infiltrating into American commerce through those beachheads in East Asia; and that's terrifying.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I mean, so that's -- that's true, that the social media and the digital possibilities for this growing, really, anywhere in the world still remains prevalent.

CORTES: No, and I think to your point, what we have to try to do is -- and it's a long process -- is defeat them ideologically. Right? Not just on the battlefield. That's important, too. Of course, and protecting citizens, through things like the travel ban, which was never a Muslim ban. It's a travel ban.

WILLIAMS: So not even when the resident called it a Muslim ban?

CORTES: No. No, it's not.

WILLIAMS: Just checking.

BOLLING: Wait.

WILLIAMS: Wasn't it Spicer that called it that?

BOLLING: Wasn't that the original -- didn't they fix that?

WILLIAMS: They did, they did.

CORTES: That was proposed, and then it was never enacted. And you know, candidates can evolve.

I think this is important, too, the fact that the Philippines is in the story. Because the president took a lot of heat for supposedly having a very friendly phone call with Duterte, with their leader, who by most reports is a pretty reprehensible guy.

But the point is here, guess what? You know who's more reprehensible? Is ISIS. And apparently, they are beheading people. There's sex slavery going on in the areas of the Philippines they control. I mean, just the worst things you can imagine. So guess what? We can occasionally partner with a bad guy to beat a worse guy.

BOLLING: The pushback -- the pushback, as you well know, wasn't that he was cohorting [SIC] with Duterte. It was that one China policy was -- that phone call was a dis to China.

CORTES: Right. No, look, and it could -- there's always competing interests. Right? In the Pacific.

But my point is, at times, we can ally ourselves with somebody who we may not love, who we might not want to introduce to Mom, but who can serve a purpose, particularly in defeating...

WILLIAMS: Point taken, point taken. We're going to now get to this, because I really want to.

Defense Secretary James Mattis is claiming a U.S. threat to Syria's Bashar al-Assad has worked. According to the U.S., the regime has appeared -- was appearing ready to conduct a new chemical weapons attack. But Mattis is telling reporters that the Syrian government, quote, "didn't do it. It appears they took the warning seriously."

I wanted to get to this so badly, Eric, because it goes to what you just said, right? Like, it's almost as if the wording alone is impactful.

BOLLING: That's very optimistic, and I love the idea that the day after the warning was given, we're calling -- they're declaring it all clear.

WILLIAMS: Well, they said don't do it, and they didn't do it. That's what Mattis is saying.

BOLLING: I hope -- listen, I hope -- I hope they're smart enough. I hope Bashar al-Assad is smart enough not to do it. But again, this is one of those things where I just say not our fight.

TIMPF: I agree with that.

CLEMENTE: It may not be our fight, but when you have a clear line in the sand, and then you allow that line in the sand to be erased, not by wind but by violence, and you do nothing about it, I think the clear difference here, James Mattis speaks; people believe what he says.

CORTES: Right. Now, once you've declared it your fight, it's important. But I agree with you. I don't see a compelling American interest in Syria. I just don't.

But I do love that rhetoric seems to matter with clear-eyed rhetoric from this administration. I would compare this to our southern border, for instance, where again, he has already largely secured the border, just through clear speaking and warning.

WILLIAMS: Doesn't that mean we don't need the wall now, Steve? Since the border is so secure now. I mean, these illegal immigrants are so down, so...

BOLLING: Still 30 percent that we can cut off. It's only a 70 percent reduction.

WILLIAMS: OK, I understand.

TIMPF: It wasn't those words. It was also those 59 missiles, which I'm not really cool with. Because that was an act of war that didn't get congressional approval.

WILLIAMS: Yes, so that's the thing. The president with this interview -- we saw some of this yesterday with Eric, you know, said he's not going to put a red line and certainly not put a red line and to then not cross it. But I do feel, to Kat's point, we have seen the president say pretty definitively that he's not going to sit idly by while just Assad kills and gases his own people.

TIMPF: He's got to stop by Congress and have them all talk about that and vote on it first, because that's the way the Constitution works.

CLEMENTE: I think our clear interest in that region and in Syria in particular is that we do not want a vacuum created. We do not want another vacuum like happened in Iraq and allowed ISIS to grow. Syria is obviously an earthquake.

BOLLING: What's wrong with a Syria that's run by Bashar al-Assad and a Russia that stops Bashar al-Assad from killing his own people? If you have peace in Syria run by Assad with Russia as an ally?

CLEMENTE: I mean, it's great for -- it's great for America to want to have influence in that region and in that country in particular, but it's not wrong for other countries to be more influential there.

And I agree with you. If it can be stabilized and the people there are protected from violence from their own government and from outside forces like ISIS, which comes from everywhere, then so be it.

WILLIAMS: But Eric, do you think Russia is going to do that?

BOLLING: I would hope so.

WILLIAMS: OK.

BOLLING: I prefer that over us getting involved in the middle of that.

CLEMENTE: Agreed.

WILLIAMS: From your mouth to God's ears, certainly.

Up next, though, it's time to "Wake Up, America." Eric Bolling is fired up over new reports on the Obama administration handling of the Russian hacking threat. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLLING: Time to "Wake Up, America."

Russia, Russia, Russia. Listen to Democrats long enough, and you'd think Russia had some kind of deal with President Trump. But what's really behind the Democrats and heavily left-leaning media obsession with Russia? Is it a visceral hate for Trump? Or are they really concerned about Russia meddling in our politics?

Surely President Obama, who's been highly critical of his successor, President Trump, and Russia, surely he thinks Russia is dangerous, right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: A few months ago when you were asked, what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. Not al Qaeda, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: So Mr. Obama, Russia wasn't even on your radar four years into your presidency. Maybe that's so long ago. Eventually, surely, you must have changed your mind over time about Russia's meddling in our elections? Right? Listen to President Obama last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America's elections. There is no evidence that has happened in the past or that there are instances in which that will happen this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: Uh-oh. So what is it, liberals? Is it really Russia, or is it some kind of Trump Derangement Syndrome at work?

CNN had to retract her coat retract a story claiming Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci was colluding with the Russians. That story was fake news, and three CNNers were forced to resign for that error.

Maybe there's a rush to Russia, a Russia to judgment, so to speak. Whatever's motivating the left's enamorment (ph) with the Russia story, it must be really important. Well, unfortunately for my good friend, the very liberal Van Jones, just got caught on camera declaring Russia a, quote, "nothing burger." Now Van, I couldn't agree with you more on this one. Clearly a nothing burger.

WILLIAMS: I was going to say, I was, like, over here Googling. I want to make sure I quote Van Jones correctly, and you beat me to it. Seriously.

I think even some of the most Democratic, far-left people are having Russia fatigue. Seriously. I really think that's where we are. We see the updates every day, every day, every day. People are tired of the money. Where is the smoking gun? And frankly, at this point, I'm more concerned with tax reform. I'm more concerned with a health care plan that works and brings my premiums down. And if there is something to Russia, then we'll hear about it when we get to it.

BOLLING: Kat, what do you think? I'm going to get to Kat. Those two soundbites were four years apart. One four years into President Obama's presidency and one at the very end of his presidency.

TIMPF: Right.

BOLLING: Claiming both times nothing to see here on Russia.

TIMPF: Right. Democrats only care about a potential hacking when it has, maybe, political implications, not about how it affects the country.

This whole thing is just so emblematic of what's going on in this country right now with the hyper partisanship. It's so much a "He did it." "Oh, no, they did it." And not "What can we do about it?" Because a foreign entity getting involved into our elections is bad.

CORTES: Kat, I think to your point, the complete lack of self-awareness. If I were a Democrat, I think I -- I would hope I would be saying to myself, "Holy cow, not only did we lose the presidency, but under the past administration, we lost 8,000 state legislative seats." I mean, that's unprecedented. Something that hasn't been seen since the Civil War in this country.

There are 25 states now where the Republicans have total control: the governorship, both houses of Congress. Only six for the Democrats. But despite the fact that they're a party in systemic national decline, there seems to be an utter lack of self-awareness. And it's easier to create this Russia scapegoat.

CLEMENTE: When you say "self-awareness," do you mean not aware of the fact that Russia is that effective?

CORTES: Right.

CLEMENTE: That they were able to give the Republicans that much power in so many states?

I mean, it's -- the thing that's really ridiculous about this is that, if anybody has to worry about collusion, it's the Democrats right now. Loretta Lynch as the attorney general meeting with targets of investigations including Bill Clinton. The -- you know, the fact that -- that the head of the FBI, James Comey, has to tank a case, because he knows that there's no prosecution possible across the street at the Department of Justice. Those are things internally that are very scary.

WILLIAMS: I want to circle back to what he said. There's some hard truth that many in the Democratic Party are not going to want to hear, but it is the truth, nonetheless.

They lost state legislature seats. They lost governors. They lost House seats, senator seats. People liked Barack Obama. They liked Barack Obama. They didn't necessarily like the policy, didn't necessarily like the party. And actually, President Obama was on record as saying that he was not really concerned with the growth and survival of the party. He was concerned about his presidency.

CORTES: Right. Right.

WILLIAMS: So now the Democrats have to realize Barack Obama is gone, and he's not coming back.

CORTES: Right. He's not coming back through that door, yes.

WILLIAMS: Not coming back through that door.

CORTES: No.

WILLIAMS: So now you need to get yourself together, get a message and find a messenger if you intend to be relevant politically moving forward.

CORTES: That's a great point. I think you're exactly right. And as much as I didn't like his policies, I'll be the first to admit he was a transformational figure. The fact that America elected a black president a few generations away from black people being owned is incredible for him, incredible for the country. His charisma, his political skills were absolutely stellar. I'll be the first to concede that.

TIMPF: But he's done.

CORTES: But he's done. They're left with a bunch of cranky old people who don't care about growth in this country.

BOLLING: Want to weigh in on that one?

TIMPF: Yes, I completely agree. Barack -- it's hard to not like Barack Obama. I would love to hang out with him after work. I'm sure he has plans. But he seems like a fun guy. But again, very different from the Democrats. There's like a shell of a party without him.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

BOLLING: Can we be optimistic and say maybe the CNN story, everyone in the mainstream media learned their lesson? Do your homework, stop rushing to judgment.

WILLIAMS: Hopefully.

CORTES: It's the beginning of the end of Russia.

BOLLING: All right. We've got to go, but a quick reminder. Check out my new book, "The Swamp," available everywhere. It's popping back and forth between No. 2 and No. 3 on Amazon's bestseller list. Very, very happy about that. And a huge, huge thank you to everyone who helped achieve that early success. Thank you.

And when we return, we "Circle Back" with our specialists, Steve Cortes and Tim Clemente.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TIMPF: Time to "Circle Back" with our specialists, Steve Cortes and Tim Clemente.

All right. You were very optimistic about health care getting done.

CORTES: I am.

TIMPF: At some point. I wanted to ask you when do you think that will actually happen?

CORTES: Kat, it better get done. After the -- after the July Fourth break, which they shouldn't be taking but they are, and before the August break, which again, they shouldn't be taking if it's not done.

But I really do. I really -- I don't think I'm just being Pollyanna here.

I will say this about Mitch McConnell. I agree with him -- I disagree with him a lot on policy. He's a master parliamentarian. I think he knows how to get this done, even it's a little ugly, and get that through in between those two breaks. And if we do that, once we do that, then we move on to tax reform, to tax cuts which, again, is the holy grail. This country has to grow again. And if we start growing, so many other problems solve themselves.

WILLIAMS: Speaking of Pollyanna, Steve, I have a question for you. You are a proud Georgetown Hoya. And I wanted to ask you your thoughts on Patrick Ewing becoming the new head coach for your Hoyas, and will they bring you back to basketball relevancy.

CORTES: You know, listen, I think it's a great move. They needed to do something. Georgetown basketball has been pretty bad.

WILLIAMS: Pollyanna.

CORTES: For a while. Not very proud -- you say I'm a proud Hoya. I certainly am, in terms of I love playing sports. The best things I learned were on the gridiron there, not in the classroom. Because unfortunately, Georgetown has become like so many universities, an indoctrination camp for leftist ideologies.

WILLIAMS: Was it like that when you were there?

CORTES: It wasn't as bad as now, but yes, it was. So I'm sad to say that, but that's the reality.

BOLLING: Very quickly, Tim, I'm getting all these texts and emails saying that -- can I say this word? -- you're a badass out there. Are you still in the law enforcement security business? Or have you changed fields?

CLEMENTE: I don't think it's possible to take your -- at least one foot out of that field completely. So I still keep my hands meddling in the counterterrorism world, especially. I travel around the world extensively, and I consult not only in Hollywood but around the world.

BOLLING: Thank you for that. We're glad you're on our side.

CLEMENTE: And I agree with Steve, Georgetown has become a cesspool, having played at four (ph) universities myself. No, I'm talking about on the football field, not about the classroom.

CORTES: But upward and onward.

WILLIAMS: Right.

CORTES: Tax cuts and growth.

CLEMENTE: I agree.

TIMPF: Thank you to our "Fox News Specialists today," Steve Cortes and Tim Clemente.

We thank you all for watching. Make sure to follow us on social media, @SpecialistsFNC on Twitter and Facebook. Remember, five o'clock will never be the same. "Special Report" is next, and it's amazing. Keep watching.

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