Transcript

Karl Rove optimistic tax reform will get done; Sen. Rubio's message for the Venezuelan people

Trump administration sets sights on tax reform; Fox News contributor weighs in on 'The Story'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 1, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, President Trump urging his team to go on the offense against damaging distractions and leaks that threaten to derail his agenda, and the attorney general stepping to the plate with a major new effort that could land to leakers in jail. That's "The Story." Good evening, I'm Dana Perino in for Martha MacCallum.

Fox News confirming that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is preparing a major announcement unveiling a high profile criminal leak investigation, specifically targeting those behind an unauthorized breach of sensitive intelligence information. In moments, we'll be joined by Charles Krauthammer on what he thinks is behind this new Justice Department effort. But first, Chief National Correspondent, Ed Henry, live at the White House on what we may hear, Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, Fox News has learned that Jeff Sessions will announce this crackdown as early as Friday. Really, a critical move, because President Trump and his top aides believe that this parade of leaks has not only been damaging to his administration, but some of them have involved classified information, it would actually involve breaking the law. So, top officials here tell us that the announcement by Sessions will be an overview of the Justice Department's battle plan to take a much sharper look at some of the recent news reports with some of this sensitive intelligence material, rather than an announcement of specific prosecutions.

Now, while Sessions and his advisors stressed that this crackdown has been in the works for some time, we have to note the context of this, of course, is coming after the president put intense pressure on his attorney general to act with tweets last month. They call Sessions beleaguered and demand of action on leaks; one tweet declaring "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign -- 'quietly working to boost Clinton.' So, where is the investigation, attorney general?" He also cited our own Sean Hannity, followed by a second presidential tweet declaring, "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a very weak position on Hillary Clinton's crimes (where are e-mails and DNC server) and Intel leakers!" Now, in an exclusive with our own Tucker Carlson, Sessions was blunt in declaring he expects this will get the ball rolling on actual criminal prosecutions.

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JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Go to jail, if we can make cases they are going to jail. That will be our advocacy, which we've been working on before. And the president has every right to ask the Department of Justice to be more aggressive in that, and we intend to.

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HENRY: So, the attorney general saying that he will zero in on actual criminal leaks, while the legal but damaging palace intrigue leaks we've seen in the media, now have to be plugged, of course, by the new chief of staff General John F. Kelly, after he ousted Anthony Scaramucci who had been making that one of his principal duties. With the hours of Scaramucci's exit yesterday, though, there was this major leak, yet again in the Washington Post alleging that President Trump himself directed what became a misleading statement about his son Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting at Trump Tower last summer, Dana.

PERINO: All right. And that leak, certainly, wouldn't be under the attorney general's purview, but you're right, the new chief of staff. Thank you, Ed. Here with more is Charles Krauthammer; he's a Syndicated Columnist and a Fox News Contributor. So, Charles, we know that the president wanted this to be a priority of the attorney general. It sounds to me like he's not going to be frog-marching anybody in front of the cameras, but he's going to say, we are getting serious about this. And I assume that the attorney general hopes that that will stop what they're calling it "culture of leaks." What do you think?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, generally speaking, you'd expect something this splashy would be there frog-marching of a perpetrator or two. A little bit of handcuffs, a little bit of drama, and actually have cases to present. No cases to present, it makes you think that this is part of Attorney General Sessions trying to keep his job. Now, there's nothing wrong with going about looking for illegal leaks, particularly from the administration: unmasking, and all of that stuff -- that's right. But given the context, to use a word Ed Henry used, this is clearly an attorney general under siege, being humiliated, and attacked by his own president, trying to show that he's a good soldier. I don't think it actually does him a lot of credit having to be so obsequious about the president's demand, but that's the way that is and that's how he'll keep his job.

PERINO: But if it keeps the tweet against him at bay -- I get that maybe helps him do the rest of his job. But if I can pray upon your previous experience, what is the psychology behind leakers? Do you think that -- are they trying to further a story? Is it out of the goodness of their hearts? Or do they want fame and fortune? Or maybe like they want attention from the press? Where does it come from?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, this is on nonmedical diagnosis here. Generally speaking, it's people who are committed to a cause and think that the cause will be advanced by the leak. Either a negative cause, meaning, you want to bring people down whom you think are hurting the country, or that you want to expose the truth like in Watergate. I mean, some people, I guess, do it for the glory of it, but leakers, generally, don't get glorified. You end up like Julian Assange, hiding out for six years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. That's not exactly glory.

PERINO: So, there are two different types of leaks; what Attorney General Jeff Sessions will talk about is the National Security- related intelligence information leaks that are criminal.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right.

PERINO: But now, as Ed Henry was suggesting, so we have a new Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, is coming into a White House that has had leaks about, sort of, what's going on inside the White House that they don't like either. What can a chief of staff actually do to stop that kind of thing?

KRAUTHAMMER: Fire people, who are caught, and try to make it very clear that that will be the penalty so that you get a deterrent effect. There was a sense up until Kelly's had session a day ago, that the White House was a free fire zone, where if you had a personal enemy or you had certain ambitions forwarded by arrival in the White House, you could just be leaking crazily to try to embarrass, hurt them, or to bring them down.

You know, Scaramucci was pretty open about it, and he wasn't exactly a secret leaker; he was more of a suicide bomber who too took a whole bunch of people down with him. So, you've got this culture of free-for-all and what you needed. And I think Trump did exactly the right thing: you bring in a Marine general who has a sense of the chain of command and order to read everybody the Riot Act. And presumably, it will reduce the number of leaks in the future. But it isn't going to do a thing about the ones that have already leaked out, and which have been so damaging up until now.

PERINO: I know that I would've never wanted to disappoint chiefs of staff -- Andy Carter and Josh Bolten -- when I worked there. If I could ask you just one last question about the other piece of this that Ed Henry brought up, which is the leak in the Washington Post last night about this statement that was written about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer, that the White House basically said today that the president just weighed in like any father would do. Do you think that that will pass muster with either the press or maybe even the investigation?

KRAUTHAMMER: There's no way around it. This is bad news for the White House. It's not a felony; it's not criminal to mislead the American people. God knows, Bill Clinton did that a million times, and he was nailed for what he said in the deposition, which is a whole different thing. But if lying or misleading or a criminal offense, we'd have to empty out the congress. Nonetheless, it looks very bad. First, because the White House had said, the president was not involved whatsoever; you got that from Jay Sekulow, the president's own lawyer repeatedly said that, so that is not true. And second, because it implicates the president in an event, the meeting with the agent of the Russian government who was peddling dirt on Hillary, which is the one episode of collusion that is simply undeniable. Again, not necessarily criminal --

PERINO: Right.

KRAUTHAMMER: You don't impeach somebody over that, but that is collusion. Bungled collusion, (INAUDIBLE) collusion, is nonetheless collusion. And you've got the first time the president is involved even if indirectly and after the fact.

PERINO: All right. Charles Krauthammer, thank you so much.

KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.

PERINO: All right. Joining me now is Charles Hurt, a Columnist for the Washington Times and a Fox News Contributor; and Mary Anne Marsh, who is a Democratic Strategist. If could just be four-week ago to you, I want to have you listen to Corey Lewandowski who talked about the leaks that are actually happening within the West Wing. Let's listen to that.

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COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER MANAGER OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Look, I think the president's frustration was probably what the amount of leaking coming from the White House. If Reince couldn't control those leaks and also he's continued to permeate, then, he was the one who's ultimately responsible. And General Kelly is brought in to make sure those leaks do not continue.

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PERINO: Now, Charles, let me start with you because you're a journalist. I've assumed that you are probably the recipient of some leaks, possibly, even back in the day when we work together when I was at the White House. What do you make of this whole thing? And do you think General Kelly will be able to stop leaks coming from inside the West Wing, at least?

CHARLES HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND COLUMNIST FOR THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Well, certainly, it's going to be -- it's going to be a tall order for him, but I do think that that kind of discipline that he brings to it is exactly what's needed. And of course, you know, anybody in the press loves leaks. We love, you know, any sort of information that we can get. But what I think is so interesting about so many of the leaks that we see now, first of all, a lot of the leaks turned out not to be true. A lot of stories that are printed based on those leaks wind up later not being true. But the other thing that I think is so disturbing about a lot of it is that the leaks are so damaging to the president.

And there are -- so many of the accusations and the smear is directed at the president. And there are two things there: one is there's a real discipline problem that the administration has to fix. But the other thing is, and this is something that I think that a lot of people, it's sort of a badge of honor in some sorts is the degree to which so many people inside the administration who are not necessarily loyalist but who feel threatened by this president and really do want to do him damage, because he's going to change the way things operate around here. And you know, that's not a bad thing, but they have to get a control of these things.

PERINO: So, Mary Anne, certainly leaks are sometimes strategic, right? Sometimes the -- leaks come in all sort of different forms. And there have been some reporters who were trigger-happy and went with leaks that ended up not being true. Do you think the Democrats run any risk of overplaying their hand, thinking that every leak is going to lead to the impeachment of President Trump?

MARY ANNE MARSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think only the truth could lead anywhere and take you down that path. But I think the real point here is, look at why people are leaking from the White House about Russia. And there are only two reasons: one is you're trying to persuade Trump to do something and change his behavior that you failed to do privately, and you hope he'll do it if he sees it publicly in the media which he's a voracious consumer of. The other reason is to save yourself. And neither one of those things puts you in a very good place if you're at the White House because that means you're trying to outrun the truth if you're Donald Trump.

Trump has basically made the bet that it would hurt him more, to tell the truth, today, than to tell a lie and get caught tomorrow. And when you're in that place, things don't get better from here. Could the Democrats overplay their hand? It is possible, but what we've seen time and time again is when Donald Trump and the White House has one thing, more often than not including today, it's the truth is something totally different and it starts to add up. And that's a bad place to be for any White House.

PERINO: I have wondered, Charlie, why the White House doesn't just continue to refer to the investigation and not answer everything single question that comes up? Or do you think that that actually would be more damaging for them? Because there are these little drifts that come out like last night about the statement that was drafted for Air Force One, what do you think?

HURT: Well, I think that to some degree, you know, these guys are at this for six months. And before this, they have -- you know, the only experience they have with politics is, of course, running their campaign that wound up being spectacularly successful, though no one expected it to be. They're sort of reinventing the wheel all the time which is a great thing about Donald Trump, but it's a maddening thing in situations like this. Because you're exactly right, they should just refer everything to the investigation, because nobody, and nobody outside of Democrats, and outside of people in Washington cares about any of this stuff. And you really could get --

PERINO: What do you make -- Mary Anne, let me give you the last word, because you hear that a lot that the White House has, well, actually, nobody cares about this, and some of the polling bears that out, what do you think?

MARSH: I think that people care about it a lot. They may not respond to that particular issue, but look at Donald Trump's polling; he's under water everywhere in every single poll now. And you've seen the level of trust that he holds with the American people is at the lowest place it's been in -- since he's gone into the office. That line has only gone down, and you cannot earn trust back. It's the most valuable commodity you have in elected office, but certainly, if you're in the White House. And to earn that back, would take years, it's not years more; it's nearly impossible. And in six months, Donald Trump has lost the trust of the vast majority of the American people, but for 35 percent of the country who still support.

PERINO: Although with that number, he actually -- I mean, it's not that much lower than what he won the presidency with. So, he hasn't gone down too much in that regard. All right, thank you both.

HURT: Thanks, Dana.

MARSH: Thank you.

PERINO: Coming up, new signals from the White House tonight, suggesting that we may be hearing their plans to deal with North Korea in the not-so- distant future, that is still ahead. Plus, one feminist writer suggested it would be "a betrayal of every woman who has ever supported the Democratic Party," the latest issue dividing the left is next. And the Democrats squabble, the Republicans on the Hill are getting ready to make tax reform the next legislative goal. Karl Rove is here to take us through exactly how the president can win the looming battle.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We'll be submitting an infrastructure bill in the not very distant future. We're going to be submitting a tax bill in the very near future.

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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: We stand for three simple things. First, we're going to increase people's pay. Second, we're going to reduce their everyday expenses. And third, we're going to provide workers the tools they need for the 21st-century economy.

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PERINO: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer's message to his party being largely ignored that according to Politico that wrote some on his own party are wondering whether they need a message at all besides resistance. The dustup comes as the chair of the Democrats House campaign arm is saying his party should be willing to support candidates who oppose abortion rights, setting off some prominent progressives. Ilyse Hogue, President of the pro-choice group NARAL, tweeting: "Any compromise is akin to allowing a far-right, religiously warped, anti-Democratic force to infect the Democratic Party so that they can write laws that control women." Writer Lauren Duka adding, "This will be a betrayal of every woman who has ever supported the Democratic Party."

Joining us now: Dana Loesch, she's host of "Dana" on The Blaze T.V.; and Richard Fowler, Senior Fellow at New Leaders Council and, of course, a Fox News contributor. So, I wanted to talk about the abortion messaging for a second. Because, Richard, the man in charge of (INAUDIBLE), who is basically the one for the Democrats trying to make sure that the Democrats can win some House seats. He said you know, look, we should be open to the fact that some people that want to run as Democrats are going to be pro- life. And that set all of these other progressive women off. And I just wonder from your perspective, is it a good idea for the Democrats to be shrinking their tent at this point?

RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SENIOR FELLOW AT NEW LEADERS COUNCIL: It's not a matter of shrinking their tent. Thanks for having me, Dana. It's a matter of really understanding where the party is and sticking to what we believe in. One thing you can learn from Donald Trump, whether you like him or not is he has a message and he's sticking to it. Was it unpopular with some Republicans? Absolutely. Did people -- did some Republicans say that they were never Trump-ers? Absolutely. But he's President of the United States.

This issue, now, when I say pro -- and I want to be very clear, I am pro- choice, I am not pro-abortion. I think pro-choice means more than just, you know, a woman being able to have access to, you know, abortion care, but also means having access to contraception, it means being able to get birth control, it means they will go to planned-parenthood clinic, it means all of these things, right? And so, when you say that we're going to endorse candidates that against that, that speaks to moving away from who we are as Democrats and who we've always been.

PERINO: But Dana, I have followed the stuff pretty closely. I haven't heard of a Republican in years saying that -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) Republican saying they want to restrict contraception. I think that this issue has actually matured, and you had Republicans actually running on -- well, Cory Gardner of Colorado, the Senator, he ran on a platform saying he thought birth control should be widely available and over-the-counter.

DANA LOESCH, THE BLAZE TV HOST: Exactly.

PERINO: So, I just feel like the Democrats are trying to keep Republicans in a box that they've actually broken out of it.

LOESCH: That's right, Dana, it's so good to see you. It's a strong man argument that they use because -- and you hit the nail on the head. Republicans are the party that's push for over-the-counter birth control, of course, that endangers some of the special interests that fund the Democratic Party. I'm not, Dana, I'm not going to criticize Democrats for finally coming around and adopting a Republican platform. And even though it's not based on the sanctity of life; it's on the sanctity of getting votes, I'll take that if it saves some infants. I will all totally take that all day long. I'm excited to see it. It's actually one of the first real smart things that I've heard from Democrats in the past eight years.

They're looking to expand their coalition, and they have to. When you look at the amount of Democrats that voted for Donald Trump, not because they liked him, but because they loathed Hillary Clinton and Democrats have nobody else to put up. I mean, they really need to expand their base. They realize they've got to pick up 24 seats, and the only way to do that, Dana, is to expand that coalition.

PERINO: Well, and the other thing I would say is that the president stuck to a message during the campaign about economic opportunity and growth. And Richard isn't that what Chuck Schumer was saying the other day, which is we've got to figure out a way to get back to those issues so that we can take those voters who had voted for Obama, then voted for Trump to try to get them back in the category. Talking about abortion, I don't think it's necessarily going to be the winning thing, but it's more about the economy. And do the Democrats even need a national message because, pretty much, it seems like letting a thousand flowers bloom is the new strategy?

FOWLER: Well, I think we do need a national message. And I'm happy to see a better - the better deal that came out last week that Chuck Schumer announced, and I think Democrats should be talking about it. But let's be very clear here, you know, having a pro-choice message and having an economic message isn't mutually exclusive. Those two things didn't exist by themselves. And another point to speak to what, Dana, mentioned about this idea of Republicans being for contraception, if you remember correctly during the Affordable Care Act fight seven or eight years ago, it was Republicans that blocked health care companies from covering birth control for women who worked at religious institutions --

PERINO: Richard, that is not --

FOWLER: That is true.

LOESCH: That's false, Richard.

FOWLER: That is true.

PERINO: That is -- no.

LOESCH: No. They only --

FOWLER: It was Republicans.

LOESCH: No, no, Richard. Richard, as a woman, let me, a woman, explain to you.

PERINO: Then I'll give you the last word as a woman.

LOESCH: Insurance companies were not -- they were not blocked from offering contraception. They covered contraception for women's health needs; it was for recreational, sexual recreational purposes that companies were not forced, and insurance was not forced to cover it. So, there is a difference.

FOWLER: But they should be forced to cover it in all cases. That's --

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PERINO: Well, that was the dispute.

LOESCH: If I want to buy condoms, why am I going to ask you to pay for my sexual active recreational birth control?

FOWLER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

PERINO: Last word to you, Richard, then we got to go.

FOWLER: Because Insurance companies already cover Cialis and Viagra, that's recreational sex (INAUDIBLE), so why can't they cover condoms?

LOESCH: And they cover for -- birth control for health reasons, not for recreational.

FOWLER: I mean, why can't they cover birth control?

LOESCH: Not for recreational, but for health reason.

FOWLER: But if they cover Cialis and they cover Viagra, why can't they cover birth control?

PERINO: OK. We got to run.

LOESCH: Dana, good to see you.

PERINO: All right. Don't forget my book, Dana. You're the one that we're going to write in the future.

LOESCH: Yes, I know right. I have (INAUDIBLE) on you.

PERINO: Tweets we never sent: this is what it's going to be.

(LAUGHTER)

PERINO: All right. Coming up, Senator Marco Rubio is here to tell us why he just delivered a national message to Venezuela. Plus, talk about some provocative comments from one of his fellow GOP senators. And despite the seeming chaos inside the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House is quietly working to uphold one of President Trump's biggest campaign promises; filling our nation's courts with conservative judges, an update on the progress ahead. Plus, he was the man behind the strategy that led to the Bush tax cuts. Up next, Karl Rove explains how Trump can go even further.

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PERINO: President Trump setting his sights on tax reform earlier today at the White House. And with the newly minted the chief of staff, John Kelly at the helm, Republicans on Capitol Hill are hopeful that a tax overhaul is coming soon.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-K.Y., SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: What we intend to do is to take up tax reform when we come back after Labor Day. I don't think that this is going to be 1986 when you had a bipartisan effort to scrub the code.

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PERINO: So, how exactly should the White House roll out their messaging on this? Joining us now with his tips is Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush and a Fox News Contributor. So, in this debate, Karl, I think that there are optimists and pessimists. Optimists say, well, obviously we need tax reform; the country needs it for sorts of reasons, for fairness, and for economic growth. And then, you have pessimists who say, well, it's not been done for 30 years, it's going to be so hard; they couldn't get health care done. Which are you, an optimist or a pessimist?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I'm generally an optimist. I'm one of those kids like Ronald Reagan described, you got up and saw the pile of manure under the Christmas tree and dug into it trying to find the pony that was supposed to be in there. So, even after health care went down, I'm hopeful and I'm actually pretty optimistic that they're going to get tax reform measure done, a tax cut done. It's not going to be as big and as bold as we probably would've liked it to have been, particularly after the health care defeat, but it's going to be big enough and hopefully strong enough to give us a go --

PERINO: So, what would -- what do you think they should do? We heard that the president will be traveling in August. He's going to hit some battleground states, I understand to try to sell this message. How else should they try to get this across the finish line?

ROVE: Well, first of all, lower expectations. I noticed there's a tendency among members of the administration say we're going to get done now, or we're going to get it soon, and it's going to be big, and it's going to be great. This is going to be a tough lift because getting it passed the house they've got a pretty good discipline there, but even there it's tough. And then getting it through the senate with 52 votes is going to be tough. So lower the expectations. Second of all, dial up the coordination. The good news is that seems to be being done. You notice there're been regular meetings between Paul Ryan and Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of ways and means, Leader McConnell, and the chairman senate finance committee Orin Hatch, Plus Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and other White House.

PERINO: And outside groups.

ROVE: And outside groups, which is -- let me come to that in just a minute. But keep that coordination going forward because you need to stay it out. And third, expand the number of voices that are being heard in this. And you're right, the outside groups, particularly the business community are getting revved up about this, and it's important to do that. But overall, you need to have the president delivery a more, I think, persuasive, consistent, and educational message. He's got to tell the American people why he wants this in more than 140 characters. This is going to require set piece speeches. It's going to require marshaling the evidence as to why this is important to describe in reasonable terms what might happen. Don't raise the expectations. Don't oversell this. Don't promise that, you know, people are going to able to keep their plans of they like their plan, that kind of thing.

PERINO: We have Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal on later in the show, and he argued today in the Wall Street Journal that the president should give an oval office address on tax reform. Would you advocate for that?

ROVE: Oh, I agree. And I think even more important than just one address was, what I took away from that article was is that the president has a bully pulpit, and Bill was saying make regular use of it, and that means you need to have a plan. The White House has been without a planner. Sure, they have a press secretary, but as you and I both know, the communication director principle function is to develop a plan to make all of the parts of the administration move in unison with their allies on Capitol Hill.

PERINO: Yeah, because basically you are running a campaign.

ROVE: Absolutely.

PERINO: Speaking of the campaign, the president made promises about making sure that we were getting for the country, conservative judges, across a slate of judges in the country. Is he fulfilling that promise from your standpoint?

ROVE: Oh, absolutely. His nominees for not just the Supreme Court with Judge Gorsuch, but his nominees for the pellet bench and these district benches, I just keep hearing terrific things about the people that he's putting forward. And I think this is going to be one of the great achievements in his first year in office is that he has done so well in this regard. And again, it's a lesson for us because he has not -- this has not been insular. Don McGahn, the president's council has been reaching out to outside groups, the federal society, and Leonard Leo and other conservatives who are interested in this have been hearing from the White House, asked for their suggestions. They've been doing a lot of consultation with senators about this. I think this is a lesson for the White House on how they can be more successful by relying on allies outside the west wing.

PERINO: Rights. So, high impact but not a lot of headlines, but still getting a lot of that done. All right. Karl Rove, thank you so much. Still ahead in the wake of North Korea's longest range missile test yet, new indications suggesting the administration is ready to act. Ed Henry is coming up with some interesting quotes from the White House tonight. Plus, a series of power grabs from Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, spark deadly protest in a country spiraling into chaos. Senator Marco Rubio is here on the heel of his address to the Venezuelan people to explain why this should matter to America.

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PERINO: That was shocking new videos showing two prominent opposition leaders being dragged away to prison after being seized from their homes in the middle of the night by state security agents. This comes just days after an illegitimate election ignites deadly protest, and yields more power to the dictatorship rule of Nicolas Maduro. He's now one of just four heads of states personally sanctioned by President Donald Trump. Joining me now to discuss America's stake in this story, is one of Maduro's most ardent opponent, the man who just delivered a speech on Venezuela TV, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, thank you for joining me. I know that this is not a new issue to you. You've been covering it for a while. And I wonder if you could explain to people what is happening there, and why you decided to be the Americans that stood up and gave a speech in Spanish to the people of Venezuela. What did you say to them?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Well, first of all, let's see what's happening there. What's happening there, Hugo Chaves dies leaves behind what's already kind of a disaster because he's given away all those oil to spend money through a socialist model. This new guy takes over, and basically realizes he can't win an election. His party lost the election. He lost the legislative branch. So he comes with this idea called the constituent assembly. They're wiping out the national assembly, their congress, and replacing it with a Cuban style governments, where basically there're no more direct elections of their representative, all designed to fortify themselves in power.

What this leads to -- why this matter to the United States, number one, thousands of asylum-seekers from Venezuela are already applying the fastest growth of any country in the world, so it's placing migratory pressure on the United States. Number two, it's our value and it is our hemisphere, we have not had a dictatorship emerge in this region in this way in 40 years. This is the first lost or attempted loss of a democracy since the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. But third, let's play this out. So you've got Venezuela now in play with Maduro and things they're doing. They can now destabilize Columbia, because the narco-traffickers in Colombia are people they've aided for a long time, important ally to the United States, and then move west. That takes you into Central America, because that's where the migratory and drug trafficking pressure comes against the United States.

They now threaten the government of Honduras with a leftist candidate. They've already threaten El Salvador is already halfway there with its current leadership. Nicaragua is already all the way there. Guatemala is on the verge of being a failed state because of the challenges it faces. All of this pushing into Mexico who itself has a left of center Chavez-type figure running for president a year from now. And so, you can very quickly see within four years if this works in Venezuela, you could see it spread to Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua it's already there, El Salvador, and ultimately into Mexico and right to the U.S. border. So this is -- you've got to think forward on a couple of these things, but these dominoes begin to fall, and suddenly we have a very unstable region where anti-Americanism and narco trafficking are putting tremendous pressure on our country, and not to mention the migratory pressures that follow.

PERINO: Sir, you are the only U.S. senator who could have delivered that speech last night in Spanish, what was your main message to them?

RUBIO: My main message is I've seen this happen before. I'm not seeking to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela. All we're asking for is for the government of Venezuela to follow its own constitution. Hold free and fair election, and let the people vote for whoever they want. But I also spoke to them as someone who was born and raised in a community shaped by the tragedy of this hemisphere, by the Sandinistas' in Nicaragua, by the Castro's in Cuba, and by the tyranny that results -- that leads to corruption, which we've seen massive amounts of corruption.

And so my point to them is the United States like any sovereign country has a right to decide who they deal with and on what terms. And we are not going to stand by and watch as this anti-American dictator consolidates himself in power, violates the rights of his people, and ultimately in the long term threatens the United States. So it's a message of solidarity and in support for what President Trump has done and what he intends to do in the days to come.

PERINO: Senator, did you see the report in the Washington Post that says that there might be a change of a mission statement language at the state department taking out the two words, justice and democracy, so that it would maybe say something like, we promote the security, prosperity, and interest of the American people globally, does that concern you that the state department might be taking those words out?

RUBIO: It does, because I think democracy and stability and prosperity go hand in hand. Here's the bottomline, when in a country where people get to vote and choose their leaders, they're less likely to start a war, and they're more likely to be more prosperous, because those leaders, every two, every four, every five years have to answer to their people. This is not about left versus right. One of the things I made last -- points I made last night, in Argentina they have presidents on the left and on the rights, but they're elected. Brazil is going through a constitutional crisis right now, but it's being decided through their court system. Mexico has elections. Chile has gone left and right from one time to another. That's not the issue. The issue is when people -- democracies don't generally start conflicts with other democracies, because their people won't tolerate it. Dictatorships do because they don't have to answer to anybody.

PERINO: It doesn't seem like the best time to be actually revising that mission statement, in particular, but I guess we'll wait to hear from the secretary on that. I get to ask you one last question, I've just talked to Karl Rove, we are talking about tax reform, and I asked him if he was an optimist or a pessimist that could get done, he said optimist. And I know you have a great interest in this, especially, when it comes to working with Ivanka Trump on the tax credit. Where are you, optimistic?

RUBIO: I am, because I think we're -- unlike health care, I think there's a strong consensus in the Republican Party for pro-growth tax strategy. In fact, we have to do it. A lot of this economic growth we're seeing now is because that expectation of tax reform is already built-in to the growth. They're anticipating it, and that's what it's growing. And if it doesn't happen, we could see the reverse effect very quickly, and we'll be the blame. So we've got to get it done. And I do believe that we need to be the pro-family party, the most important institution in society is the family. The most important job any of us have is to be a parent. It simply cost more money than it ever cost before to raise children now in the 21st century. Our tax code should account for that. And that's why I met with Ivanka on it again today. We're going to get that done as well.

PERINO: It's really important to talk about children. We've talk a lot about the older population as we should, but the children need more attention. Thank you, senator. We really appreciate your time.

RUBIO: Thank you, Dana. Thank you.

PERINO: Up next, we go back to the White House as some new comments may indicate the U.S. is ready to make its move against Kim Jong-un. Plus, the president says twitter is his best way to cut through the noise, but is he ignoring a better way to get out his message? Bill McGurn and Howard Kurtz, straight ahead.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy, we're not your threat, but you're presenting an unacceptable threat to us. And we have to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERINO: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly suggesting that the U.S. is on a brink of making its move against an increasingly aggressive and antagonistic North Korea. His comments putting the world on notice with some speculating that the U.S. may take preemptive action against a rogue nation. Fox News chief -- national correspondent Ed Henry is back with some new messaging coming from the White House tonight on North Korea. Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Well, Dana, you're right. It's very significant that for the last two days Sarah Huckabee Sanders at that White House podium has not ruled out the possibility of a so-called first strike, that the U.S. could launch an attack against North Korea to try and deter its nuclear weapons program, this coming because the stakes could not be any higher right now. After the testing late last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea, national security experts now warning us that they may be able to reach -- be able to reach any big city in the United States with any of their missiles in the days ahead, that's right, North Korea may now have the range to attack major U.S. cities ranging from L.A. to even New York and Boston. And yet, that's getting very little attention right now compared to the health care failure, White House staff moves, or Russian interference.

In fact, Jerry Seib frame it perfectly today in the Wall Street Journal when he wrote that North Korea may soon launch, quote, another underground test of a nuclear device, a problem a lot more important than who's up and who's down in the White House this week. President Trump has been direct in recent weeks about saying China has not done nearly enough to help deter this threats. And today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear this is an urgent situation, but the administration is still optimistic that a diplomatic solution can be reached.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TILLERSON: We do believe China has a special and unique relationship because of this significant economic activity to influence North Korean regime in ways that no one else can. That's why we continue to call upon them to use that influence with North Korea to create the conditions where we can have a productive dialogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Still the possibility of war is very much alive. Republican Lindsey Graham, today, declaring the only military option for President Trump is to destroy not just North Korea's nuclear program, but to destroy the nation of North Korea itself. Pressed on that again at the podium, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said all options are on the table, but she stressed as we've heard before from this president, he's not going to telegraph what he plans to do in the days ahead, Dana.

PERINO: All right. Ed, thanks so much for keeping tabs on that. While the president said today that twitter is the best method for getting his message out, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bill McGurn suggested today there is an even more powerful tool, the oval office address. And there are some suggestion that we could see one sooner rather than later. Joining me to discuss is Bill McGurn, the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and Howard Kurtz, Fox News media analyst and host of Media Buzz. So Bill, you argue that one of the best tools that a president can use is the power of an oval office address, because of what it will mean and what it shows. Do you think he should do that on tax reform?

BILL MCGURN, FORMER CHIEH SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I think he ought to have done it on health care reform. He might have had a different outcome. Look, I'm not saying that twitter is not useful, but it is one of the tools of the presidency as we talked before. When a president gives the state of the union, for example in congress, just think of it, the opposition, which ever party, it always look so diminished because their stage is not nearly as grand as speaking to both houses of congress. Same thing with the oval office, it's a chance for the president to speak directly to the American people, take them into the oval office, he's usually behind the desk as you know, and make his case. It's one of the greatest tools. Like gems, it has to have a certain rarity to have some value. But it was surprising to me that it went unused, tremendous bully pulpit.

PERINO: So it's been six months, Howie, that the president has been in office, and we haven't really seen anything major oval office address, do you think that there is some reluctance from the White House to do it?

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: I'm really been puzzled, Dana, by the president's avoidance of the major TV speech. It was the missing element of the health care fight. And, as you know, there's a whole process, you have to ask the networks for TV time. Hardly a problem in a cable news environment where even his spokesman's briefings are all carried live. And then it's the media build up, the most important speech of Donald Trump presidency. Then come the speech -- and debating the speech for a couple of days. It's really is the way of moving public opinion. And I'm surprised it's a tool, as Bill says, the president has not chosen to use so far.

PERINO: The other reason to an oval office address, Bill, that you argue is because it lets congress know what the president wants, what his policies will be, what his priorities would be, and in this case with tax reform, especially if you have some Democratic senators in red states, they might feel that pressure from their constituents.

MCGURN: Yeah, all of them might. In this case, maybe Republicans from some states might have felt some pressure. Look, it's a chance -- the president is the only one then can speak to the nation like this and give his priorities. The example I use was Reagan in '81 on tax cuts, which a lot of people were skeptical about. July 27, 1981, he went on the oval office, gave his address, spoke to the American people, and then he asked them, call your congressman and senators and let them know. And Tip O'Neill said it was like the greatest blitz he has ever seen. And that was missing. So, again, I don't want to say twitter is useless or so forth, but this is a powerful -- I mean, Reagan was an actor and he recognized the stage is important.

PERINO: But that is an interesting thing, Howie, because when you think about this president who understand television and how things look, the power of an oval office address and all the lead up to it, I mean they can make this last like two weeks.

KURTZ: Absolutely, but I think the president just naturally prefers to sort of riff at these rallies.

PERINO: Oh, sure.

KURTZ: . these freewheeling speeches. I mean, there's a lot to be said to that.

PERINO: I will tell you, Howie, that Bill and I work for a president who did not like to sit down behind the desk and read from a teleprompter, because you feel -- even though you're speaking to the world, you feel all alone, and it feels like you're talking into a box. And you can't see anybody and you can't get a feel for it.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: I think beyond that, Dana, Donald Trump views that -- the traditional press conferences, the traditional speech, as kind of too slow, too traditional, too 20th century, and in fact, you know, it is a tool that influences the elites. You say, who cares about elite opinion, but that in turn could affect public opinion people, write op-ed, they go on cable news segments, and so, you know, president has a lot of tools available. This is one he has not chosen to use.

PERINO: I have to say, my little piece of advice has been, I think that the president should just surprise everyone, walk in, and do a big press conference and just change all the news.

KURTZ: You'll get the credit if he does it in the next couple of days.

PERINO: OK. We've got to go. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PERINO: Thanks for being a part of "The Story" tonight. Tucker is up next. He'll have part two of MS-13 series he's doing. Then, stay tuned to see me and the gang on "The Five" at 9. Have a great night.


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