This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," July 9, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.
President Trump is back in Washington after his first meeting with Vladimir Putin. What should we look for in relations between the U.S. and Russia?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia and the United States and for everybody concerned.
WALLACE (voice-over): In the wake of the G-20 Summit, we’ll discuss where things stand on Syria, Ukraine, Russian meddling in the last election, and the Trump agenda, when we sit down with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. It’s a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.
(on camera): Then, the Senate returns from recess still confronted with what to do about ObamaCare. Is repeal and replace in trouble?
(voice-over): We’ll ask Republican senator, Dr. Bill Cassidy.
Plus, as North Korea gets closer to a nuclear ICBM, President Trump reaches out again to Chinese President Xi.
TRUMP: I’m sure that whether it’s on trade or whether it’s on North Korea, we will come to a successful conclusion.
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel if there's any way to stop Kim Jong-un in his tracks.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
President Trump is back at the White House after the G-20 summit where he seemed to get along better with Russian President Putin than some of our long-time European allies. So, where do we stand now on foreign hot spots, trade, and climate change? And what about a newly disclosed meeting in 2016 between the president's son, Trump campaign officials, and a Russian lawyer?
In a few minutes, we’ll break it all down with an exclusive interview with the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
But, first, let's bring in correspondent Kevin Corke at the White House with the latest -- Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, no matter how far away the president travels from Washington, for example, the 4,000 miles to Hamburg, Germany, this White House is never terribly (ph) far away from the Russian meddling story, it was one of the topics heading into the G-20 and it is again coming out of the G-20.
The president talking about it and tweeting about it once again, this time talk about his meeting with President Vladimir Putin. He tweeted, I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election, he vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion.
Later, the President tweeting on Sunday: Putin and I discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that election hacking and many other negative things will be guarded.
This as FOX News confirms that Donald Trump, Jr., arranged a meeting at Trump Tower during the campaign with a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. That meeting he failed to disclose on his federal paperwork but had been noted by other attendees including Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. We also heard from the Trump legal team that the person who took part in that meeting may have misrepresented herself and who she worked for and may, in fact, have had ties with DNC operatives, very interesting twist in that story.
As for deliverables from the G-20 summit, no surprise the Syrian ceasefire is an obvious one. The president tweeting: now is the time to move forward and working constructively with Russia on that.
Another deliverable, the announced agreement with China to conduct joint military exercises in 2018, Beijing’s obvious attempt to mollify U.S. concerns over the North. On Trade, and the final communique, which acknowledge America's right to seek more trade equity abroad, Mr. Trump tweeted this Sunday: The G-20 Summit, a great success for the U.S. -- explained that the U.S. must fix the many bad trade deals it has made. Will get done.
And the summation also noted America's decision to back out of the Paris climate accord, which it called irreversible. Of course, according to the White House, it’s nonbinding and we’re out -- Chris.
WALLACE: Kevin Corke reporting from the White House -- Kevin, thanks for that.
Joining me now, President Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus.
Reince, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I’m happy to be here, Chris.
Let's start with the breaking news that in June of 2016, there was a previously undisclosed meeting, and let’s up all the players on the screen, Donald Trump, Jr., this was during the campaign, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior advisor, and then campaign chairman Paul Manafort, met at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Why did they meet and why are we just learning about it?
PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, Chris, I don't know much about it other than what I’ve communicated with various members there on the screen. It was a very short meeting. It was a meeting apparently about Russian adoption and after about 20 minutes, the meeting ended and that was the end of it.
And as far as nondisclosure, look, Jared Kushner put in his disclosure a little prematurely, he has since amended it. All of that is disclosed, and it was a nothing meeting. And now, what's developing from that meeting, if you look at the article that Circa put out, is that the individual that set up the meeting may have been affiliated with Fusion GPS, which is opposition research firm that is being subpoenaed and talk to by the Senate Judiciary Committee about their role in putting together that phony dossier that people know about in regard to the president.
So, this is a developing story. I don't know much about it other than it seems to be on the end of the Trump individuals a big nothing burger but may spin out of control for the DNC and the Democrats.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about two aspects of that. In terms of the DNC, are you suggesting that this was somehow a set up by Democrats to try and link them or compromise them with the Russians? And this was before there was any Russian interference in election. So, why would they have done that?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, why was Fusion GPS involved in putting together this dossier? I don't know, Chris. And I don't think too many people know why or how this meeting came about.
However, what I can tell you is in my communication with our team on the subject, there was nothing to it, it was a 20 minute meeting, it ended after everyone was decidedly sitting there saying there's nothing happening here. They moved on. And I think, in the end, what you’re going to find in the story, if you read the Circa column, because I think there’s more questions on the Democrat side than anywhere else.
WALLACE: And one last question about the meeting, why would Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort all want to meet with a Russian lawyer about Russian adoption?
PRIEBUS: I have no idea, Chris. You’re going to have to talk to them. However, you know, talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people, like adoption, is something that's not unusual. So, when you go through a campaign, you’re not just talking to one particular group of people about in this case adoptions in Russia, you have policy teams talking about our place in Asia, talking about trade in China. You have policy teams that run the gamut. It’s not unusual.
WALLACE: The foreign policy meeting?
PRIEBUS: Apparently so.
WALLACE: OK, I want to clear up, speaking of foreign policy meetings, what really happened in the Putin-Trump summit in Hamburg on Friday. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says that after Putin denied meddling in election, he, Trump, this is his quote, said that he had accepts these assertions, and that President Trump said, this is Lavrov quoting Trump, certain circles in the U.S. are still exaggerating, although they cannot prove this, the topic of Russia’s interference with the election.
Reince, is that true? Did the president say what Lavrov says he said?
PRIEBUS: No, it’s not true. The president absolutely did not believe the denial of president Putin. What he did his he immediately came into the meeting, talked about Russian meddling in the U.S. election, went after that issue at least two separate times.
This was not just a five-minute piece of the conversation. This was an extensive portion of the meeting and after going at it with President Putin more than once, two times, maybe even three times, the president at that point, after spending a large part of the meeting on the subject, moved on to other topics.
WALLACE: So, to be clear --
WALLACE: And we’re going to get to that. He does not accept Putin's denial. He believes the Russians meddled?
PRIEBUS: He’s answered this question many times. He said they probably meddled in the election. They did meddle in the election. The one thing that he also says, which drives the media crazy, but it’s an absolute fact, is that others have as well, and that's true. China has, North Korea has and they have consistently over many, many years.
So, yes, he believes that Russia probably committed all of these acts that we've been told of, but he also believes that other countries also participated in this --
WALLACE: Let's move to the next subject, which is, what is the response? What are the consequences for doing that?
I want to put a tweet that your president -- your boss has been very busy on Twitter today. I want to put up this tweet. Now, it is time to move forward and working constructively with Russia.
Does that mean that they’re off the hook as far as Russian meddling is concerned?
PRIEBUS: No, it doesn't mean they’re off the hook, but what it means is, is that we’re not going to forgo progress simply because we have a disagreement in regards to this meddling in the United States election, what it means is that we need to move forward with things like a cease-fire in Syria, which is going to save a lot of lives, which we are doing I think starting today in southwestern Syria. It means we need to move forward with working together with ISIS. We need to move forward with working together in resolving the conflict in Ukraine.
WALLACE: So, how do you --
PRIEBUS: So, you can have -- you can chew gum -- walk and chew gum at the same time, Chris.
WALLACE: How do you respond to Democrats like Chuck Schumer who are saying it's disgraceful that the president comes out of this meeting and basically says, oh, we’re going to move forward?
PRIEBUS: Right. Well, we can solve world peace and world famine and I think Senator Schumer would say the same thing. So, look, they’re programmatic when it comes to trashing the president.
When you look at what President Trump did in Europe and recommitting ourselves to our NATO allies, committing ourselves to our partners in Europe, our partners across the world, committing ourselves to the values of the West, delivering a speech in Poland which many people said are the best speeches since Ronald Reagan. You look at what he did in Hamburg. I mean, other than our small disagreement on trade and the Paris agreement, we have unification with our allies.
WALLACE: All right. Well, I want to get to that with you. But let's talk about one more aspect of the Trump-Putin meeting and that is progress in Syria. They did discuss it. Here is how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described it afterwards.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I would tell you that, by and large, our objectives are exactly the same. Maybe they’ve got the right approach and we got the wrong approach.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: I want to ask about that. The secretary of state says the U.S. and Russia have exactly the same objectives and that maybe they have the right approach and we have the wrong approach. Russia, Putin are backing Assad who has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians, and they may have the right approach?
PRIEBUS: Well, look, I think what he may have been referring to is that Barack Obama put a red line in the sand and didn't actually follow through with the threat that he made in Syria and we find ourselves from -- we find ourselves behind the eight ball in Syria because nothing happened for many, many years and now, we are looking -- from the outside looking in. That all being said, we need to move forward and actually maybe work with Russia on bringing peace to Syria and I think that's what you're seeing the beginning stages of happening.
WALLACE: But they want Assad. They want somebody who, the butcher of Baghdad who was slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people.
PRIEBUS: Maybe not long term. I think it’s yet to be seen what is going to be of Assad. I mean, certainly, he's a butcher and he’s a bad person.
And you've seen President Trump act decisively when it comes to Syria. It didn't take him long to pull the trigger in regard to a response to the chemical attack. That's a decisive leader and that's who the G-20 leaders saw in Hamburg, as someone who is decisive, someone who is not afraid, someone who doesn’t kowtow, and stands up for himself when it comes to issues of disagreement like trade and the Paris agreement.
WALLACE: Let's talk about exactly that subject, because generally at these G-20 summits, the meetings of the world's leading economies, East and West, the U.S. sets the tone. But there were a lot of times, and you just referred to it a couple times, sharp disagreement over climate change, just completely disagree and they kind of papered over the disagreement on trade, which still is there.
Does the president have any trouble when he's one against 19?
PRIEBUS: No, actually, I think the American people should look at that as a massive positive about this president, that you have a president that doesn't just show up at the G-20 and sink into his chair and just suddenly agree with all of these European leaders across the table when it comes to issues that he disagrees on. The president has made it very clear that he doesn't believe the Paris agreement is fair.
Now, you say it's a disagreement. It's really not a disagreement on the environment. It's a disagreement on the Paris agreement itself, and the fact that we don't want to be hamstrung by an agreement that’s going to hurt the American worker across the country that the president has pledged to support. We don’t -- we disagree in regard to trade a little bit and the fact that this president actually believes that trade should be fair, that we shouldn't be taken advantage of.
That’s something the president is standing up for the American people. It should be seen as a positive, Chris.
WALLACE: Let me ask you a specific question on trade because the president may decide in the next few days whether or not to impose tough restrictions on steel imports coming into this country, talk about a possible 25 percent tariff. The head of the European Commission says: We are prepared to take up arms if need be. His reaction to the fact that the president may do this.
Is President Trump ready for an international trade more?
PRIEBUS: Well, OK, first of all, the president does what he says he's going to do. He's been talking about steel, aluminum, cars for 30 years, my entire -- practically my entire life. He is -- he believes in the things that he believes in.
There's also a national security peace to this and the American people need to understand. If a country loses its ability to produce steel, it loses something in regards to national security, a country cannot find itself importing steel from China subjected to dumping of steel from other countries, and decreasing productivity.
WALLACE: I don't mean to interrupt, but --
PRIEBUS: This is an important issue, not just for trade, not just for the American worker, for national security.
WALLACE: But you're making the argument that, yes, he’s going to impose tough restrictions on steel imports.
PRIEBUS: My guess is that he will because he promised that he would.
WALLACE: But then, the Europeans are going to impose tough restrictions.
PRIEBUS: Of course -- maybe they will, maybe they won't --
WALLACE: But they say they will.
PRIEBUS: -- but they can’t take advantage of the United States. Many of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States and part of the reason why President Trump is in the White House is because he told the American people that the time is over for the rest of the world to take advantage of the United States. Now, that all being said --
WALLACE: What happens when they impose -- what happens when they impose tough restrictions on our exports to them and then Americans lose jobs?
PRIEBUS: Other than maybe a few countries, you can't find a trade surplus going the opposite direction from the United States. That all being said, let me just, because we might be running out of time, I want to make it very clear --
WALLACE: We are running out --
PRIEBUS: -- this was a positive meeting. The president set the stage in Europe, the leaders of the G-20 came to the president, he was a star in Hamburg, and no one can take that away. And the fact of the matter is, I think he's placing America first, but with that, strategically aligning our allies and making sure that our objectives across the world and the objectives of western civilization are being met.
WALLACE: One last question. I got about one minute left. We’re over time. Senate coming back this week, going to take up health care. Mitch McConnell is acknowledging that you may not pass repeal and replace, you may have to work with the Democrats to prop up ObamaCare, more Republican senators coming out against it. How much trouble is repeal and replace in?
PRIEBUS: I don't think it's in half as much trouble as the media wanted to be in, just like it wasn't the case when we went through the House bill the second time around, everyone said that it was over and then a few days later it passed. I think that's what you are seeing right now. I think you are seeing members of the Senate putting their wish list together. You have a leader in Mitch McConnell that can get it done. If anyone can get it done, Mitch McConnell, President Trump working together with a Senate, can get it done.
WALLACE: Yes or no, will they pass --
WALLACE: Yes, what?
PRIEBUS: Yes, they will get a -- they will get a repeal and replace bill done (ph). I believe that.
WALLACE: Before the August recess?
PRIEBUS: Maybe before, maybe a little bit into it, but I know that this president expects them to get this done. Whether it’d be before August recess or during August recess, the president expects the Senate to fulfill the promises it made to the American people.
WALLACE: Reince, thank you. Thanks for your time.
PRIEBUS: You bet.
WALLACE: Always good to talk with you.
PRIEBUS: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss President Trump's latest turn on the world stage, meeting with Vladimir Putin and other leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): There is that position of the United States on the one hand, but I’m very happy that all other G-20 heads of state and governments have agreed that the Paris agreement is irreversible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, host of the G-20 Summit, acknowledging there were some sharp differences between the U.S. and other countries.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, columnist for The Hill, Juan Williams, former Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, author of the best-selling book, "Understanding Trump."
Well, Speaker Gingrich, G19 was trending on Twitter this weekend because of the sharp differences between the president and all the other leaders, especially on climate change, but also as you heard my discussion with Reince Priebus on trade. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for the U.S.?
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think it's a good thing. Look, the president starts from a simple premise, we have a whole series of agreements that are bad for America, while they are good for the guys that got the deals. So, all these guys who got these good deals are going, oh gosh, you actually want to change the agreement?
Well, again, same thing with NATO, we went out and said to NATO, pay your fair share, including Germany, by the way, all of a sudden, they are shocked that we want to actually have them help defend themselves.
So, if you're going to go in and you are serious about changing the trade deals, the other side who have had a good, free ride are going to be mad at you. If you’re serious about changing the Paris accord on economic grounds, which is what Trump said, if you read his speech, it's very clear that he thinks this is a bad deal for America. Well, if you’re the Germans and the Chinese and the Indians, you think that's a great deal for you.
So, I think he did exactly what he promised to do. I think that's exactly what the campaign was about. If they think they can get along without the U.S. in the Paris accord, let's talk about six months from now because the truth is Angela Merkel and Germany ain't that big. Those people don't have -- they don’t have that much clout.
And in the end, remember, he starts the week by going to Warsaw, so between Theresa May in Britain and the Polish government in Warsaw, he’s also reminding the Europeans, the Europeans are split on a lot of issues, we don't happen to be with the chancellor on them.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Edwards, let me bring you in on this because while there certainly were differences and the European leaders aren't happy about this, and in many cases kind of said, it's one against 19, I’m sure there are a lot of Trump voters who would say playing nice with the world hasn't helped them, particularly in the case of jobs that they’ve lost.
FMR. REP. DONNA EDWARDS, D-MARYLAND: Well, I don’t think it’s a question of playing nice. It's a question of being a leader. And I think that one of the perceptions coming out of the G-20 is that the United States doesn't seem to be standing in its leadership position.
And so, you know, look, I was not a big fan of many of those trade deals. I think that it's really important for us to look at ways that we protect the American workers, that we strengthen our manufacturing for us. And so, I think it's appropriate to look at those things, but it doesn't mean leaving the rest of the world behind.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALSYT: It’s an interesting formulation here, and you're hearing it from Congresswoman Edwards and for many others as well, which is that the president is out of step with the leaders in Europe. In other words, if he refuses to follow them, he is therefore not leading.
To me, that just -- on logic grounds, that doesn't make any sense. He is taking a different path. There’s much -- there are many nations who will be with him. Certainly, the reception he got in Warsaw indicated that as well. And because he is out of step with a certain group of European leaders does not mean that he's given up a leadership role. It may indeed mean he's embracing it.
WALLACE: But let me ask you, Juan, and, you know, it’s a very interesting conversation I had with Reince Priebus on this question of steel imports. He basically says he's going to impose limits on steel and you get the head of the European Commission saying, god, we’ll then impose limits on some of your exports.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, so you get into a trade war situation. You see that inside the White House, you have people, like Steve Bannon saying, yes, this will appeal to our base, to people who feel like they've lost jobs because of these trade deals that are unfair to American workers, but you get ten people on the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn and others saying, you know what, we don't want a trade war, we don't need that kind of static right now, the economy seems to be going along pretty well, we had good numbers this week, why would you want to disrupt that?
And I think for a lot of people, this question then extends to the leadership issue you are hearing discussed here this morning.
So, my take on this is, when you talk about American leadership, you have to understand, we have the biggest economy in the world, we have the biggest military in the world, we can set an example for other countries. It may be that at some point, you say, hey, we are taking more aggressive steps that are being imposed on other countries, so that's not fair to us. But guess what? We are the big boy.
WALLACE: I want to turn to perhaps the highlight of the whole summit and that was the meeting, at least from the U.S. point of view, the meeting between President Trump and President Putin. Here’s the tone they set at the beginning of the meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned, and it's an honor to be with you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President, and I hope as you have said, our meeting will yield positive results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Speaker Gingrich, how much should we make of what the two men said about Russian meddling, now you’ve got President Trump in a tweet this morning saying I’m going to move forward, Syria, North Korea, all the issues? Are we overstating the importance of this meeting?
GINGRICH: Well, I think we’ll know in six or eight weeks. I mean, if they actually have a cease-fire that actually works, which also, by the way, involves Israel and Jordan, that's the first time in the Syrian civil war that we will have actually had a joint American-Russian agreement that survived. But I would say that you will know more about that in six to eight weeks.
If they create a relationship where they can get a genuine cease-fire in eastern Ukraine that is an enormous step in the right direction. If they can create a relationship with the Russians understand that we would defend the three Baltic States and that they cannot threaten them, that’s an enormous -- I mean --
WALLACE: Yes, there are a lot of ifs there.
GINGRICH: That's exactly right. I don’t -- given Putin's track record, I can’t sit here today and tell you this is a breakthrough. I can tell you that the tone is probably right. The fact that it lasted over two hours is probably right.
And that Putin is a very tough guy, but I think you may have been surprised by Tillerson and Trump because they’re very tough guys. And so, I think -- if you go back to some what I said, if you end up with two sets of tough guys and one of them has the largest economy, the largest military, the greatest reach in the world, probably that guy ends up winning if he is determined. And I think ultimately Putin is probably going to deal with Trump.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Edwards, you know, I want to ask about this controversy, and a lot of Democrats have been hitting Trump, a lot of your former colleagues in Congress, the idea of talking about moving forward. I mean, to some degree, do we want to hold the entire relationship hostage? Just assume the worst that the Russians meddled like crazy, tried everything they could to interfere in the election. Don’t we still have to do business with them?
EDWARDS: Well, I mean, there's moving forward and then there is, do we sanctions relief? And so --
WALLACE: Just want to talk with them (ph).
EDWARDS: So, I want to -- well, I want to hear what moving forward means because the fact is, the Trump administration actually has been engaged in the Congress trying to loosen the sanctions and are not happy with the bill that came out of the Senate. And so, I want to know what moving forward means. Does that mean that we do have to have a relationship at some level to try to deal with Syria? Yes, but our interests in Syria are very different from the Trump administration interest in Syria. We’re not going to prop up the Assad regime, I think Russia has that interest. And so --
HUME: Might I suggest that if the president had had a very tense meeting, centered entirely on the alleged meddling in the election, which appears clearly to have happened, and the meeting broke up in disagreement, with other issues on the backburner, that the president's critics would not have liked that better than what happened. This amounts to at least a renewal of diplomacy in an area where diplomacy has been at a chill for some time. We’ll see what comes of it. It's way too early to judge, as the speaker suggests, but I can't help and think that it's probably worth a try, at least, to see if diplomatically some things -- constructive things can be accomplished.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. We’ll see you all a little later.
Up next, the GOP's health care agenda is in trouble, but how much trouble? We’ll discuss the fate of repeal and replace with Republican senator and doctor, Bill Cassidy, who has his own plan.
WALLACE: Coming up, senators returned to Washington to tackle health care after some hear from voters back home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Single payer.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Vote no! Vote no!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Can the Senate pass repeal and replace? Republican senator and doctor, Bill Cassidy, joins us next.
WALLACE: A look outside the Beltway at New Orleans famed French quarter.
The Senate returns from recess tomorrow with Republicans still hoping to keep their promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare. But how realistic is that goal? Joining me now is Louisiana Senator and Dr. Bill Cassidy, who has his own health care plan.
Senator, welcome back.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY, R-LOUISIANA: Thank you.
You were one of the few Republican senators or congressmen to hold an open town hall during this last recess and you got an ear full on health care. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I’ll tell you what’s rude, taking 22 million people off their health care in this country who you know who cannot afford it.
You worked at the Earl K. Long Hospital for a long time and you know what people are like at their lowest. So to step on their necks by kicking them off their health care at this point, that’s cruel, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A strong message to follow.
As you went around the state of Louisiana these last ten days, how concerned are voters? How concerned are folks when they read -- and obviously this fellow was aware of it, the CBO report that -- that tens of millions of people could lose their health insurance under the plans Republicans are putting forward?
CASSIDY: They’re very concerned. You're hearing two different arguments. You’re hearing first folks saying, listen, I'm paying $1,700 a month for insurance. Before ObamaCare I was paying $800. And I have $6,000 deductibles per family member. And are (ph) you have folks who -- with disabilities who are concerned they will lose their coverage for the disability. That shows that health care is like no other issue, it touches people in their most personal being. We’ve got to get it right.
WALLACE: And they’re not happy with the current situation.
CASSIDY: Well, people don't like change even from worst to better. And there’s been a lot of kind of promulgation of things which are not true about the health care bills that are going up. By the way, I have reservations about the Senate bill. But, nonetheless, some of that which is of concern does not need to be a concern.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about the plan, because you and Senator Collins, Republican Senator Collins of Maine, who has said at this point that she's against the bill, the -- the Senate bill, with the -- your plan that you’re putting forward, here are some of the highlights, keep most ObamaCare taxes to pay for a replacement, allow states to keep most of ObamaCare if they want, for states that want a new system, auto enroll people in insurance so thy have to opt out, not opt in.
Senator, it’s an interesting plan, but how many of your colleagues in the Senate, and particularly Republicans, have signed on to it?
CASSIDY: We have six of us total, more than any other plan out there. And, by the way, I would say that is the only way we can go forward.
WALLACE: But -- but you -- you need 50, plus the vice president.
CASSIDY: Oh, we need -- I totally get that. But once -- if -- if the president logs in that this is the plain he wishes, or that the leadership says, OK, this is the plan we want, then it will be the plan that goes forward. Some people were going to sign on. They said, let's see what President Trump does.
Let's first talk, Chris, though, about why they’ve had such a problem passing any plan. They're trying to combine tax reform with health care reform. We take care of that. We say, let's do health care reform first and then address the tax situation when you do comprehensive tax reconciliation -- comprehensive tax reform. Don't mix the two. We don't mix the two.
Secondly, are we serious about keeping Donald Trump’s campaign pledges to cover all, care for pre-existing conditions, eliminate the individual and employer mandate and lower premiums. If we’re serious about that, Cassidy-Collins is the only way to get there.
WALLACE: But -- but here's the criticism that -- that you here. And, quite frankly, I don't mean to be negative, but this is the reason it doesn't seem like Cassidy-Collins is going anywhere, is that if New York -- what you’re basically saying is it’s a federal system. Each state can decide what fits them. That is a good, conservative, federal argument. But if New York and if California decide that they’re going to retain ObamaCare with all of the benefits, most of ObamaCare, with federal taxes, which is what your plan would do, conservative senators say in their states what you’re going to do away with ObamaCare, then the folks in their states are playing so New Yorkers can have bigger, better, richer health care coverage than they can.
CASSIDY: That is a misunderstanding of our bill. Every state gets an equivalent amount of money based upon their population and a couple other factors, cost of care, et cetera. So every state would get their fair share, if you will. New York and California would continue to get the share they want, minus, by the way, the penalties on the individual and employer mandates. We repeal those mandates. So those states would have to re-impose individual and employer mandates. Frankly, I don’t think they keep ObamaCare. I think they go with our other option.
WALLACE: All right, the hot idea right now is Ted Cruz's plan, that he is offering under which each exchange, an insurer would -- could offer what are called skinny plans, cheaper plans with fewer benefits that people could buy but as long as they offer one plan that has all the benefits under ObamaCare. And the argument against that is that you’re going to get healthy people, they’re going to buy the cheaper plan with less coverage because they’re healthy, and that means that the middle income people, who aren't covered by Medicaid, who have pre-existing conditions or serious problems are going to have these expensive comprehensive plans they won’t be able to afford. You basically have a two class insurance system and for the people who really need it no insurance at all.
CASSIDY: Well, first, I’m all for -- I’m all for people being able to choose the insurance plan that best suits their needs. We should absolutely do that. But you’re right, if you (INAUDIBLE) off the older and sicker in their own plan with their own risk pool, then you’ve just re-created the ObamaCare exchanges with federal taxpayers putting billions in to subsidize the expense of a few. We need to have a common risk pool where everybody chips in a little bit for that young person who gets in a car wreck, for example. If we do it, and in that case the Cruz amendment’s a good amendment.
WALLACE: But, as it now stands, Cruz is a nonstarter for you?
CASSIDY: I don’t know the amendment. If it turns out it's two plans --
WALLACE: Well, that's what he's described.
CASSIDY: With -- no, that's OK. With two risk pools, then that's bad because --
WALLACE: That's what he’s described.
CASSIDY: No. He has not yet designated whether or not you have a single risk pool or two risk pools. If it is a single risk pool, that actually works. If it is two risk pools, that’s just ObamaCare recreated and we need to do something different than ObamaCare.
WALLACE: At least 10 Republican senators have now said -- have come out formally -- you have not, although you’ve expressed doubts about it -- have expressed doubts about the McConnell plan as it was offered the last week in June. Is that plan now dead?
CASSIDY: We don't know what the plan is.
WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, it was -- it was submitted.
CASSIDY: Well, the draft plan has now been serious rewrite. And so we don't know what the serious rewrite -- clearly the draft plan is dead. Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don't know. I’ve not seen the serious rewrite plan.
WALLACE: It’s -- it -- it's a heck of a way to do business.
CASSIDY: It is a heck of a way to do business. By the way, I go back to Cassidy-Collins. The nice thing about Cassidy-Collins --
CASSIDY: The nice thing about Cassidy-Collins, as you said, it’s a conservative, federalist approach which actually gives the state guidelines, gives every state their fair share and allows them to come up with the answer for their state. It actually takes that decision-making away from us, returning it to the patients and the state. That's where we should be.
WALLACE: And then there is the idea that President Trump offered in a tweet a few days ago, and let's put this up on the screen, "if Republican senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date." What you think of that?
CASSIDY: A nonstarter. I’ll tell you, there will be uncertainty in the insurance markets. Premiums will rise for middle-class families. It gives all the power to people who actually don't believe in President Trump’s campaign pledges, who actually don't want to continue to cover and care for pre-existing conditions and to lower premiums. It gives them the stronger hand. I think it's wrong. I think it betrays President Trump’s campaign pledges.
WALLACE: So I come away from this, senator, thinking that -- that repeal and replace is in real trouble.
CASSIDY: In the current pathway, it has been. And I know I sound like a broken record. We should go back to conservative principles where we devolve power to the states and to the patients allowing them to make the patients -- the best decision for them.
WALLACE: But I guess what I'm asking is, if you look at a rewritten -- and I understand you haven't seen it all -- but what you've heard about. I mean there's nobody who’s more clued in on this than you are in the Senate. If you look at what McConnell is talking about, you look at what Cruz is talking about, forget Kennedy -- Cassidy-Collins for a moment. How much trouble is repeal and replace in?
CASSIDY: If you're only talking about the draft plan, clearly it’s not going to pass. Ten senators have said they would not vote for it. On the other hand, every time they come up with an iteration that becomes more conservative in the sense of giving power back to states, we move a little bit closer to passage. So if we continue in that pathway, I do think we come up with both a bill that passes and one that fulfills President Trump’s campaign pledges.
WALLACE: Does this get passed by the end of the month?
CASSIDY: I don’t know that.
WALLACE: Do you -- you want to put odds on it?
CASSIDY: I would probably put that as 50/50. I do think we have to do something for market stabilization, otherwise people who are paying premiums of $20,000 $30,000 and $40,000 will pay even that much more. So we have to do something to stabilize the market for those middle-class families currently kind of groaning beneath ObamaCare.
But, going forward, ObamaCare just cannot -- our American people want more freedom to make the decision that matters to them and not have somebody in Washington, D.C., tell them what that decision should be. ObamaCare tells them what that decision should be. It may take a while, but we will get to a point where that power goes back to the family. And that's where it should be.
WALLACE: But it might not happen on this legislative calendar.
CASSIDY: It may not happen completely on this legislative calendar, but the process will begin. And as that process begins, it will be inevitable that it will eventually, completely occur.
WALLACE: Senator Cassidy, thank you. Thanks for coming in. It's always good to talk with you, sir.
CASSIDY: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring back our Sunday group to handicap whether Mitch McConnell can put together the 50 votes he needs to pass a bill.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about GOP chances for repeal and replace? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ObamaCare is in a total death spiral. And the problems will only get worse if Congress fails to act. ObamaCare is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump making his central argument, that Republicans have no choice but to repeal and replace a plan that is now falling apart.
And we’re back now with the panel.
So, Brit, Mitch McConnell didn't want his GOP colleagues to go home for this recess, concerned that spending a lot of time with their voters at home would only weaken support, not strengthen support, for repeal and replace. How much trouble are Republicans in now in passing a bill?
HUME: Well, I think the bill’s in trouble and it will have to be revised. And whether it can be revised to the point where it can gather a majority in the Senate is a question. And what is really troubling about this, Chris, is this, that at the heart of these repeal and replace efforts is the -- is the reform of Medicaid, not to cut its spending, but to reduce the spiraling rate of growth of that program. If the Republicans, with control both houses and the White House, cannot do this on this matter, it signals that entitlement (ph) reform, which for budgetary and physical reasons and for the national economy needs to happen, cannot happen. And that, in my mind, is alarming, disturbing and very worrisome.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel. And on this question of whether or not the Senate is going to be able -- Republicans in the Senate -- to repeal and replace ObamaCare, we got this on Twitter from Ron Powell who writes, "why, if they had eight years and multiple House votes to repeal did you not have an alternative ready when you took power? It’s clear they had zero."
Speaker Gingrich, how do you answer Ron?
GINGRICH: Well, they -- they did have a plan and I think what they've learned, painfully, is that the kind of plan you have when everybody assumes it will get vetoed gets one level of scrutiny. The kind of plan you have when everybody thinks it’s going to become law, the -- it skyrockets. So they found it to be much harder than they thought it would be. My personal bet would be that McConnell will find the votes and I think it's possible, if they get a package that can actually run from the most conservative member to the most moderate member in the Senate, that that will just be passed by the House without a conference.
I think people really want to get this done and I think McConnell -- I think -- again, you had a -- I think just now a senator who really understands this issue and who I think was able to outline, as a medical doctor, the right direction. They’re going to keep churning for another two weeks. The deadline is good for them. The Senate tends to operate best when it's faced with a really big deadline. And I think they’ll get something done before the August break.
WALLACE: But what about Brit’s question, because that is one of the big concerns, and that President Obama and the Democrats expanded Medicaid, covered people that weren't previously covered, millions of people got it under there. This -- while it is true that -- that it doesn't cut Medicaid, it slows the rate of growth of Medicaid, some people who now have coverage eventually would lose coverage, and it states that didn't expand Medicaid, there’s a tremendous concern that they’re going to be stuck in an inferior position. How do you make them whole? Both -- both sides.
GINGRICH: Well, first of all -- first of all, I’m underwhelmed by governors who love free money. You have a lot of governors who say, oh, we want more of this money. Ninety percent of the cost to be picked up by the feds for the expanded part of Medicaid, which, by the way, actually discriminates against, for example, Americans with disabilities because they only get 62 percent of federal funding. And some states have actually re-rigged the game to get more able-bodied adults.
Second, I would say, look at what Mary Mayhew (ph) did in Maine where they passed reforms that said, if you’re an able-bodied adult, than you ought to be required to work if you have no children. Medicaid has expanded dramatically in the zones it was never designed for and I think the American people would support reforms that had work requirements attached to people who were able-bodied adults.
WALLACE: Juan, what do you think are the chances that Republicans fail to pass anything on repeal and replace, which I think there's a growing sentiment here in Washington. And if they fail to pass it after seven years of promising they would, what's the backlash they’ll face in 2018?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think their -- by the way, the premise of your question is right on target because at this point it looks to me like really what the Republicans are up against his embarrassment with the Republican base that they are not in position to pass repeal and replace after so many years, so much rhetoric and votes to undo ObamaCare and you have conservative lobbying groups here in town who are pressing hard, incising that they must repeal and replace or they will pay a price in 2018 in the midterms.
But the fact is that ultimately Mitch McConnell has expressed doubts about having it. President Trump -- the votes to pass it. President Trump has said the House bill is mean, Chris. Mean. And so what you have is the question of how the base reacts. And at this point I think the base, and a polarized electorate, is not going to abandon Republicans if they fail to repeal and replace. They’re not going to go vote for the Democrats. The problem is a political one because at this point we’re not talking about a good plan. Nobody on the -- even Republicans, when they’re polled, don't think this is a good plan for them. It's what you saw in the town hall meeting.
So, you don't have repeal and replace. Nobody’s building a border wall. No tax cuts. No tax reform. Dreamers still here. You’ve got to think, hey, Republicans, did you buy a bill of goods or what?
WALLACE: I think folks would just go home, put the -- put the blanket over their head and go back to sleep.
Congresswoman Edwards, President Trump, in that opening clip we played, may be overstating it, but you’ve got to agree that ObamaCare, as it currently stands, is in trouble. Premiums are going up. Deductibles are going up. And let me put this on the screen. In 2016, 85 percent of enrollees had a choice of three or more insurers. This year, only 58 percent of enrollees have a choice of three or more insurers. And just to take away one of your arguments, a lot of this started before President Trump became president.
EDWARDS: Well, I also think that, you know, first of all, the rate of increase is not the rate of increase that we would have seen had we done nothing at all. That is really clear. Medical costs were skyrocketing. And so I think that now, you know, the Trump administration has done some things to really destabilize the system and I think insurers --
WALLACE: But -- but in fairness, this is the point I was trying to take away from you is --
EDWARDS: Wait, insurers -- I know. But, no, no, no, but --
WALLACE: A lot of it was already in trouble.
EDWARDS: But let me just say this. I mean over this last year we have heard message after message about the need to repeal and replace and it has created total instability in the system. And I think insurers rightly don't know what's going on. And so we know that there are things that can be done to strengthen the Affordable Care Act that Republicans and Democrats can agree on, things like removing the excise tax, making sure that we provide greater incentives for young people to be in the system so that we have a greater pool. And so there are any number of things that can be done on a bipartisan basis and that's where I’d like to see this go, making sure that people like me with pre-existing conditions are able to get affordable health care the end of the day.
WALLACE: You’ve got 20 seconds.
HUME: Republicans face the problem of -- of doing nothing and seeing this collapse. Make no mistake about it, Chris, they will be blamed. They control everything. If it -- if it collapses and people are worse off, that’s as big a problem -- a bigger -- is at least as big a problem as -- as whatever they pass.
WALLACE: And it was meaningful, I thought, that Mitch McConnell said, if we can't pass repeal and replace, we’re going to have to work with Democrats to try and fix it.
Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." One of America’s greatest dancers retires and brings her next act to Washington.
WALLACE: It happens to all of us, that point in your career when it's time to move on. As we told you last fall, one of America’s most celebrated dancers is now on to her next chapter and she's our "Power Player of the Week."
JULIE KENT, THE WASHINGTON BALLET: Leaving the stage was traumatic, heartbreaking. One of the most difficult, wonderful things I’ve experienced in my life.
WALLACE (voice-over): Julie Kent is talking about the moment in 2015 when she decided to retire after 30 years as a star of the American Ballet Theater. At age 45, she could feel her skills declining, and there was another sign.
KENT: At the end of the day when Derek Jeter retired, I guess I figured I had to go, too. And Mariano (ph).
WALLACE (on camera): Yes. It’s true!
KENT: They were my guys. So, if they’re not going to play, I guess I can’t either.
WALLACE (voice-over): The question was, what to do next. The Washington Ballet asked her to become its artistic director.
KENT: As I said to some of the dancers, the next best thing to creating beautiful art is watching it.
WALLACE: And so Kent now spends hours in the studios helping dancers realize their dreams just as she did.
KENT: Its home. It’s just -- it’s at home. The bar, the mirror, the floors, the smell, the piano, the ambiance. To me it's just home.
WALLACE: Kent wants to expand the company and its repertoire of ballets.
KENT: My goals are to take this company to a place where it hasn't been before.
WALLACE: Part of her job is also to oversee The Washington School of Ballet, which has more than 1,000 students.
WALLACE (on camera): Is that a concern of yours, that being such a great dancer yourself, you -- that may not translate into being a great teacher?
KENT: I always say to them, I -- I -- I don't want you to do what you think I would do, because I’d really rather do it myself. I want to see what you are going to do.
I have no memories in life before dance.
WALLACE (voice-over): Kent started dancing as a child. At age ten, her first professional performance was alongside a master.
KENT: To be this close, sharing a wing with Baryshnikov, it was incredible.
WALLACE: She would go on to be one of the most celebrated dancers of her generation.
WALLACE (on camera): How is it to be a prima ballerina? Fun, glamorous, or just hard work?
KENT: It's the whole -- it’s everything.
WALLACE (voice-over): While she’s now retired, she doesn't close the door entirely on a possible encore.
WALLACE (on camera): Are you going to perform with the company?
KENT: That's not on the plan. No. If it made sense for me to perform, then I’m a very logical person as far as message. And if it makes sense, then it makes sense.
WALLACE (voice-over): But Julie Kent understands, after 30 years in the spotlight, she has taken on a new role.
KENT: I loved it. I still love it. I would still do it if I felt like it was the right thing to be doing. But you have to give the light to the next generation.
WALLACE: Kent is busy this summer preparing for her second season with the company. But, no, she has yet to return to the stage herself.
That's it for today. Have a great week. We’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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