This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 6, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.
The Russia investigation hits up as the Trump White House deals with a barrage of leaks. Now, the attorney general vows to crack down.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country and leakers will be held accountable.
WALLACE (voice-over): We’ll discuss if investigators can plug the leaks, and the latest developments in the Russia probe with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It’s a “Fox News Sunday” exclusive.
Then, as special counsel Robert Mueller takes evidence about Russian interference in the election to a grand jury, the president keep saying there’s nothing there.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That’s all it is.
WALLACE: We’ll talk with Republican Senator Thom Tillis, who was just introduced a bill to protect the special counsel for being fired.
Plus, as Congress leaves town for a long August recess, we’ll ask our Sunday panel about all the unfinished business they will face when they come back after Labor Day.
All, right now, on “Fox News Sunday.”
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
If you still had any doubt how serious the leaks problem is, all you had to do this week was open your newspaper or turn on your television and see transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with world leaders. And this comes as we learned, again through leaks, Robert Mueller is taking his Russia investigation to a grand jury.
On Friday, Attorney General Sessions announced measures to try and stop leaks he says endanger American security.
Joining me now for his first Sunday show interview is Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general and the man who appointed the special counsel after Sessions recused himself.
Mr. Rosenstein, welcome to “Fox News Sunday.”
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Chris. Glad to be here.
WALLACE: Attorney General Sessions says that there has been a surge in criminal referrals from intelligence agencies about leaks of classified information since President Trump took office. He says there have been as many in just the six months as there were in the previous three years.
My question is, do you see a concerted effort by people inside this government to hurt, or takedown, or try to take down, President Trump?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, you know, we evaluate every referral we receive based on the facts and circumstances of the particularly leak. And so, as the attorney general described, we’ve had a surge in referrals to the department, and we are responding appropriately. We’re going to devote more resources, reevaluate procedures and make sure we investigate every one of those leaks, you know, in an appropriate way.
WALLACE: But you must have some thoughts about why there has been a surge in these referrals, as many in the six months of the Trump presidency as in the last three years of the Obama presidency.
ROSENSTEIN: That’s right, Chris. We have seen a surge in referrals. We’ve seen an increase in the number of leaks and we’re going to respond appropriately and try to establish an effective deterrent. Criminal prosecution isn’t the only way to prevent leaks, but it’s an important part of the solution.
WALLACE: The attorney general says your department is pursuing three times as many criminal investigations as you inherited from the Obama administration. Give us a sense of scale, are we talking 1-3, or are we talking more in the neighborhood of 10-30?
ROSENSTEIN: We don’t publicize the precise number of leaks, precise number of referrals. We’ve only talked about it in terms of the proportion. But that’s significant increase has necessitated an increase in resources.
And so, we have to reprioritize our cases within the national security division. We’re providing appropriate supervision at a high level. We’ve created a new unit within the FBI to focus on those leaks, and we’re going to devote whatever resources are necessary to get them under control.
WALLACE: You say you can’t give the exact number. Can you give us a sense of scale?
ROSENSTEIN: Well, that would give the number, Chris. I think we’ve been very clear about that. We’ve only talked about the proportion, a tripling of the number of referrals so far this year.
WALLACE: But I take it if it were 1-3, this wouldn’t be a serious problem that we’re talking about.
ROSENSTEIN: One to three wouldn’t be as many as we have, that’s true.
WALLACE: So, I had a feeling this would be a tough interview and I’m preparing for it.
OK. Some of the people who engaged in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the so-called members of the deep state faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks, have disclosed classified information, will you prosecute?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, what we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the fact and circumstances -- what was the potential harm caused by the leak, what were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, who is the leaker. So, if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law, in that case, warrants prosecution, will prosecute it.
WALLACE: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
ROSENSTEIN: Including anybody who breaks the law.
WALLACE: The attorney general says that you are going to also review the policy when it comes to reporters and whether or not you will try to subpoena information from them to disclose their sources.
Here’s how Mr. Sessions put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: We respect the important role that the press place and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But the head of the reporters committee for the freedom of the press says when the -- what the attorney general is suggesting is a dangerous threat to the freedom of the American people to know and understand what their leaders are doing and why.
ROSENSTEIN: I think that’s an overreaction, Chris. The attorney general has been very clear that we’re after the leakers, not the journalist. We’re after the people who are committing crime. And so, we’re going to devote the resources we need to identify who is responsible for those leaks and who has violated the law and hold them accountable.
WALLACE: Well, there are a couple of aspects to that. First of all, you say you are after the leakers, not the reporters. President Trump has reportedly suggested at one point prosecuting the reporters if they leak -- if they publish classified information. Are you ruling that out?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, we have the same position on that I think as Attorney General Holder, that is we don’t prosecute journalist for doing their jobs. We look at the facts and circumstances of each case and we determine whether somebody has committed a crime and whether it’s appropriate to hold them accountable for it.
WALLACE: And you don’t consider the publishing classified information as a crime?
ROSENSTEIN: Well, Chris, I don’t think you can draw any general line like that, it depends upon the facts and circumstances. You know, generally speaking, reporters who publish information are not committing a crime. But there might be a circumstance where they do.
You know, I haven’t seen any of those today, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the event that there were a case where a reporter was purposely violating the law, then they might be a suspect as well. But that’s not our goal here. Our goal is to prevent the leaks. And so, that’s what we’re after here. We haven’t revised a policy with regard to reporters.
WALLACE: OK. But there’s another aspect of this, which is if a reporter gets information from somebody, puts it out in the beginning of the Obama administration, they were very aggressive in going after their sources. And if you subpoena information and they refused to disclose it, they can still end up in jail at the end of the Obama administration after a backlash from reporters, they loosened up on that. And first of all, it had to be approved specifically by the attorney general and it was kind of a last resort to go after reporters sources.
Are you are reviewing that?
ROSENSTEIN: Yes, Chris, that’s a different issue. That policy has been in existence for a very long time. Attorney General Holder revised that in 2015. It’s possible he got it exactly right but maybe he didn’t. We’re going to take a fresh look at that, and we’ve gotten feedback from our career prosecutors and agents that some of the procedural hurdles are delaying their investigation. So, I think it’s important for us to take a fresh look at it and evaluate whether or not there are any improvements that should be made.
WALLACE: And what that means in your effort to get sources that you end up putting a reporter who refuses to disclose that source in jail?
ROSENSTEIN: I’m not going to answer a hypothetical, Chris. As I said, I think it depends upon the facts and circumstances in each case.
WALLACE: We learned this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is taking his case to a grand jury. I know you can’t and won’t talk about the details of that case, but as a general proposition, does the fact that a prosecutor takes a case to a grand jury, what does that say about the likelihood of indictments?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, I’m -- you are right that I’m not going to comment on the case. I’m not going to comment about whether Director Mueller has or hasn’t opened a grand jury. You know, we read a lot about criminal investigations in the media and some of those stories are false.
We just don’t comment on investigations. That’s important for a number of reasons. First of all, we don’t want to disparage anybody who may be a subject of an investigation. Number two, we don’t want to interfere with the investigation by --
WALLACE: But I’m asking you a different question. What does it say when a prosecutor takes a case, in general, to a grand jury about the likelihood of indictments?
ROSENSTEIN: In general, Chris, it doesn’t say anything about the likelihood of indictments because we conduct investigations and we make a determination that at some point in the course of the investigation about whether charges are appropriate.
WALLACE: And what’s the advantage in terms of an investigation into taking a case to a grand jury?
ROSENSTEIN: Many of our investigations, Chris, involve the use of a grand jury. It’s an appropriate way to gather documents, sometimes to bring witnesses in, to make sure that you get their full testimony. It’s just a tool that we use like any other tool in the course of our investigations.
WALLACE: There are reports that Mueller has expanded his investigation to go into the president’s finances. He was asked about that recently.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Mueller is looking at your finances and your family’s finances, unrelated to Russia, is that a red line?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Would that be a breach of what his actual --
TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: When you -- now, I know I’m very dangerous territory here, but hear me out on this because I’m not asking about the investigation. When you appointed Mueller, and you were the one who did, you had to sign an order authorizing the appointment of a special counsel, and you said that he was authorized to investigate any coordination with Russia and -- I want to put these words on the screen -- any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.
My question is, does that mean that there are no red lines that Mueller or any special counsel can investigate under the terms of your order, anything he finds?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, the special counsel is subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Justice, and we don’t engage in fishing expeditions. Now, that order that you read, that doesn’t detail specifically who may be the subject of the investigation --
ROSENSTEIN: -- because we don’t reveal that publicly.
But Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation and so, it’s not a fishing expedition.
WALLACE: I understand it’s not a fishing expedition, but you say any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. In the course of his investigation of the issues that he is looking at, if he finds evidence of a crime, can he look at that?
ROSENSTEIN: Well, Chris, if he finds evidence of a crime that’s within the scope of what Director Mueller and I have agreed is the appropriate scope of the investigation, then he can. If it’s something that’s outside that scope, he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time, me, for a permission to expand his investigation. But we don’t talk about that publicly.
And so, the speculation you’ve seen in the news media, that’s not anything that I’ve said. It’s not anything Director Mueller said. We don’t know who’s saying it or how credible those sources are.
WALLACE: I mean, people ask about this, of course, because you had Ken Starr and Whitewater, and this began with a failed real estate deal in Arkansas and ended up with Monica Lewinsky. To expand, he would need to get approval from you to expand the investigation?
ROSENSTEIN: That’s correct. Just as did Ken Starr. You know, Ken Starr received an expansion we believe was initiated by the Department of Justice by Janet Reno that resulted in that investigation.
WALLACE: In a speech on Thursday, the president called the Russia story a total fabrication and he said here’s what Justice Department people should be investigating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What the prosecutors should be looking are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Do you view that as an order from the president?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, the president has put very responsible people in charge of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Sessions, Rachel Brand, who’s been working with me, Chris Wray who just took office last week. And we have many other qualified and responsible officials who are going to be joining us as soon, as they get through Senate confirmation to join the department. I can assure you that we are going to do the right thing and follow the rule of law.
WALLACE: But when the president, because he can order the Justice Department to do things, when he says here’s what prosecutor should be doing, they should be looking at Hillary Clinton, do you view that as an order?
ROSENSTEIN: No, Chris, I view what the president says publicly as something he said publicly. If the president wants to give orders to us on the department, he does that privately. And then if we have any feedback, we provide it to him.
WALLACE: And will you tell me whether or not he’s given you an order in that?
ROSENSTEIN: I won’t, Chris, but I can tell you, the president has not directed us to investigate particular people, that wouldn’t be right. That’s not the way we operate.
WALLACE: OK. A couple of quick questions on other issues.
Let’s turn to the department’s crack down on illegal immigration. The attorney general sent a letter this week to four cities struggling with gun violence, warning they won’t be eligible for federal money to fight drug trafficking and gang crime unless they cooperate with immigration officials.
How do you respond to critics who say the solution here, which is to cut off federal funding to the cities that have a real crime problem, is worse than the problem?
ROSENSTEIN: Chris, the challenge that the attorney general is addressing there is that cities that release criminal aliens put everybody at risk. They put citizens at risk and we’ve seen that most recently in these horrible case where we had an illegal alien who was subject to a detainer that was ignored by local authorities who released him, and he committed a violent crime.
And that’s not the only thing, Chris. We put law enforcement officers at risk because when somebody is already in jail and they’re subject to deportation order, if the local authorities ignore that order, put them back out in the street, that means that our federal agency need to go out and track them down and that puts them at risk. That’s the kind of danger the attorney general is seeking to address.
WALLACE: Finally, the attorney general has told prosecutors to pursue the toughest sentences in all cases, including mandatory minimums. Conservatives like Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, who have been pushing for criminal justice reform, say the result of this, going to end up filling the prisons with nonviolent, low-level drug offenders instead of going after serious criminals, violent criminals. Your response that?
ROSENSTEIN: Well, Chris, first of all, our priority in the Department of Justice is to prosecute high-level drug dealers, not to fill our prisons with low-level drug dealers or drug users. And the attorney general’s policy actually just returns the department to the traditional policy that we’ve been following since the Carter administration, and that is that the presumption in each case is to charge the most serious, readily provable offense.
But in the event that our prosecutors believe that’s not justified, they can make an exception. They just need to document it. That’s the policy.
WALLACE: Mr. Rosenstein, thank you. Thank you for your time. Good to talk with you.
I got to say, it was a challenging interview but I really enjoyed it. It was really quite interesting. Thank you.
ROSENSTEIN: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: Up next, Republican Senator Thom Tillis who has introduced a measure to protect the special counsel from being fired for improper reasons.
WALLACE: A look outside the beltway at the Queen City, Charlotte, North Carolina.
As Robert Mueller’s investigation heats up, there is a move by senators from both parties to protect the special counsel from being fired.
Our next guest, Republican Senator Thom Tillis, cosponsored a bill this week to do just that.
Senator, why did you introduce the legislation and how would it work?
SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C., JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, the reason we introduce the legislation, this is something that I talked about last year, in the year before under the Obama administration, what this legislation does is codify the current procedures within the Department of Justice. The only thing it adds is a review after the fact, after a special counsel has been removed, subject to a three-judge panel, so that we can make sure it was done for proper cause.
WALLACE: Your cosponsor, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, said that the reason that this bill was introduced, this is up on the screen, to expressly design to restrain the president’s power to act in an abrupt and inappropriate way.
Now, you say you’ve been thinking about this for years. But there seems to be some belief, and there certainly is backed up by what Senator Coons said, concern about this president and his reaction, very negative reaction, to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
TILLIS: Well, I think that’s right. That’s why we put the effective date back to the date of the hire of the current special counsel.
But this is an opportunity. Often times when you have the other party in the White House, people want these kinds of things but they don’t have the majority support to do it. This is an opportunity to put something on the books that applies to this current situation, but it will be in effect going forward.
This is very important. It’s an important part of what we need to do to reestablish the public trust in the Department of Justice. That’s why I’m taking the opportunity to do it now because I know the very people on my side of the aisle who have some concerns with it would be pounding the table for this if we were talking about a President Hillary Clinton and similar circumstances and an investigation that may or may not involve her.
WALLACE: But is some of this directed at President Trump?
TILLIS: Well, there’s no question that it is, because clearly, the date that we’ve made the bill retroactive to. But this is about the Department of Justice. This is about my confidence in the attorney general and my confidence in the Department of Justice to move forward in an appropriate manner.
We just want to have -- we don’t want to restrict administration’s authority or the Department of Justice from removing a counsel, we just want to make sure to the American people they can be convinced it was done for the right reasons.
WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about confidence or lack of confidence in the Justice Department and this investigation. President Trump has in over recent months, as you know, called the Russian investigation a hoax and a witch hunt.
Here’s what he said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Russian story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That’s all it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, do you think the Russian story is a total fabrication and a hoax?
TILLIS: I don’t know. I think what we -- what we have is an investigation that if we allow it to lead to its conclusion, we get a definitive answer to that question. I don’t believe that the investigation is a witch hunt, for example. I think that this is just a way to put this behind us because, Chris, there’s so many other things we want to get to, health care, tax reform, infrastructure. I’m trying to do everything I can to remove these distractions so that I can continue to support the president’s agenda.
WALLACE: What do you make of the big news this week that the special counsel is taking his investigation to a grand jury?
TILLIS: I think that that’s just a part of the process. I don’t read anything into it. Grand juries are convened all over this country for good reasons.
I don’t have a concern -- and I’m not -- I’m not an attorney. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not going to get into the procedures.
If it gets us to an expedient conclusion, I’m for anything that does that. I happen to think it will probably turn out just fine. I want to get away from the distractions and get to our agenda.
WALLACE: I’m going to get to the agenda in the minute. But I do want to ask you about something else apart from the Russian investigation that’s surprising. Republicans have recently been pushing back on this president.
I want to put up a list. You passed a bill limiting his ability to lift sanctions on Russia. That was bipartisan, Republican and Democrat. There’s your bill to protect the special counsel from being fired, and Republicans are keeping the Senate technically in session to block recess appointments.
Senator, that’s something that one party usually does to the president of the other party.
TILLIS: I think, actually, it may be the Republicans should get some credit for showing independence and not necessarily deferring to a White House that happens to share their party. One of the mistakes that Congress has have made over the past 70 or so years is convey a lot of authority down the street that they should never have allowed to leave the Congress.
Take a look at the difference is made to all these bureaucrats writing regulations with very little control on the part of Congress. There’s a number of things now that I think we should focus on that wrestle back power that is appropriately centered in the Congress, not down the street.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to health care --
TILLIS: It’s not about this president. This is about institutional --
WALLACE: No, I understand.
TILLIS: This is about our institution.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to health care. The president said that Congress should stay in session and should move and try again to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Republican leaders decided to go on recess and are talking now about, quote, moving on from health care.
Where are you on this, sir?
TILLIS: Well, I signed a letter to extend into recess. We got a week. I would have been here all month. As much as I love being here in the Queen City, I prefer to be in D.C. fulfilling the promises that we’ve made, whether it’s health care or tax reform.
I still believe we’re going to continue to work. We have to have a solution to health care. The fact that we did not get the votes a few weeks ago doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem. So, we have to stay on that and we’ve got to get onto tax.
WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about the problem. Are you willing, because it seems now the repeal and replace is dead, to work with Democrats to try to find ways to help deal with the immediate problem, to stabilize the Obamacare marketplaces? And how would you respond to conservatives who may say, hey, look, instead of trying to repeal Obamacare, you’re going to work now to prop it up?
TILLIS: Well, I think that propping up a failed platform is problematic. I’m willing to look at anything that may soften the blow as we continue to convince our colleagues on the other side of the aisle and some in my own conference that we have got to fix this problem. I will continue to support a measure that would go to reconciliation, the 51-vote threshold. I’m willing to look at what the Democrats maybe are willing to offer.
The problem is the going in position seems to be nothing more than nipping around the edges at a failed Obamacare platform, and we simply can’t do that. We can’t sustain it. It will -- it will continue to destabilize the markets and I think it will put people at risk, far more so than what we try to get done two weeks ago.
WALLACE: In the time we have left, let’s do a lightning round, quick questions, quick answers. One of the things that you have to do when you get back is to raise the debt limit or the country is going to default on its obligations for its first time in history. Are you willing to pass a clean bill without attaching any spending cuts to it?
TILLIS: Yes. If that’s what’s necessary, I hope that we can get the spending cuts.
At the end of the day, Chris, the American people need to know, all we are doing is saying that we’re committed to paying our bills. This isn’t about new spending. This is about agreeing to pay for the obligations that have already been made, many have which, incidentally, I disagree with. We shouldn’t be spending the way we’re spending in this country.
WALLACE: What are the chances for tax reform this year, and remember, if you don’t pass a budget you don’t get the reconciliation process where you can pass tax reform with just 51 votes.
TILLIS: We have got to pass a budget so that we have that reconciliation vehicle. We did tax reform in North Carolina. It’s had extraordinary results. We have to do it for the nation. It’s a promise we made and it’s a promise we need to keep.
WALLACE: Finally, the president this week proposed cutting illegal immigration in half, especially cutting lower skilled, lower paid workers. Would that be good or bad for your state?
TILLIS: I think it could be bad. I mean, if you take a look at the number of the coastal communities, the agricultural community, we have -- we have an immigration system here that’s broken. I don’t know what the right numbers are, but I think an arbitrary cut without being driven by the data is problematic. After we just got the H-2B visas released a couple of weeks ago, there are a number of communities that have applied to them, up to and including Mar-a-Lago.
So, there’s obviously a need out there that’s not being fulfilled by the indigenous workforce, and it puts American jobs at risk if we don’t get this policy right. I’m glad that Senators Purdue and Cotton offered something, at least gets the debate going. But now, let’s just get to the facts and make sure that we’re not harming American businesses and American jobs by doing this in a way that’s not driven by information.
WALLACE: Senator Tillis, thank you. Thank you for joining us, sir.
TILLIS: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to weigh in on the administration’s plan to go after leakers.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about special counsel Robert Mueller taking his Russia investigation to a grand jury? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
WALLACE: Coming up, Attorney General Sessions vows to crack down on leaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: This nation must end this culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel if investigators can find out who’s revealing classified information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign. There never were. We didn’t win because of Russia, we won because of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump at a rally Thursday pushing back against the expanding investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Jason Riley from "The Wall Street Journal" and author of the new book "False Black Power?," Charles Lane of "The Washington Post," Rachel Bade who covers Congress for "Politico," and Rich Lowry, editor of "The National Review."
Well, there were two major developments in the Russia story this week. First of all, the fact that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is taking his case to a grand jury. And, second, now reports that his investigators have gone to the White House and are asking for documents concerning the former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn.
Rich, where is this investigation now?
RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I don’t think Mueller’s going away until he indicts people. And, obviously, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort are in a lot of jeopardy. Others could be as well. The signs are it’s an increasingly wide-ranging probe.
And the question is, how much tolerance does the president of the United States have for that? And I think President Trump needs to realize, if he fires Robert Mueller, there’s some significant chance that eventually Mueller will be the lead witness in his impeachment hearings.
WALLACE: And, of course, if you get those -- those legislation, either the Tillis (ph) bill or the Graham bill passed, he may not be able to fire Robert Mueller.
LOWRY: Yes, I’m -- I’m skeptical whether those will pass. I’m even more skeptical that they should pass because I think that has serious constitutional problems. You can’t have a -- the judiciary deciding whether the header of the executive branch could fire someone who works for him or not.
WALLACE: Why do you think specially that Flynn and Manafort are in trouble?
LOWRY: Well, I think the -- just, Flynn, he’s had to serially redo his financial disclosure forms. Some of these payments from this firm that might have been a cut-out for the Turkish government are highly suspect. So I think that’s -- he -- that’s the very center of the criminal investigation.
But one last point, Chris, and you -- you brought this up with the deputy attorney general. I think he may have made a really momentous mistake in not being more specific in that initial charge to Mueller about what exactly -- what specific crimes he should be investigating and make Mueller come back and be very public about what new crimes he might be investigating because there’s no way to know now whether it’s a fishing expedition or not and Mueller might be fired on the presumption he’s engaged in a fishing expedition that he isn’t.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel and on precisely this issue of the grand jury we got this on Twitter from Tom H. He writes, "how does an investigation of Russian hacking in 2016 get to private business deals eight years past?"
Chuck, how do you answer Tom and -- and also this question -- and I obviously discussed it at considerable length with Rod Rosenstein -- what if the special counsel’s investigation goes into Donald Trump’s finances over the years?
CHARLES LANE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I guess the theory of Russian collusion has always depended on the Russians having some sort of leverage over Donald Trump, some ability to exercise blackmail-type control. You know, we have this famous dossier that’s out there with some really salacious stuff in it, but the --
WALLACE: Completely uncorroborated.
LANE: Completely uncorroborated, we should add.
But the more possible theory of Russian leverage had to do with somehow Russian institutions financing his businesses -- his business enterprises over the last eight years and that that’s somehow in some way connected back to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin and so forth.
But I do think, and in some ways I guess I’m agreeing with Rich, there is a risk for this investigation. If it becomes perceived as arranging way, way beyond the question of like who might have manipulated the 2016 election.
You know, the Michael Flynn stuff is fascinating because that’s about Turkey now, not about Russia.
LANE: And, you know, undoubtedly, Michael Flynn has got all kinds of problems with his foreign agent registrations and so forth and so on. But, after all, he was only national security adviser for 24 days and it’s going to take some explain to link that somehow back to the ostensible mission of this investigation.
Presumably what Mueller is up to here, like a good prosecutor, is finding leverage on Flynn to flip him to tell what other things he may know about Russia.
WALLACE: Then there was, as we discussed with a deputy attorney general, the barrage of leaks this past week, and a new effort to find the leakers. Here is the director of national security, Dan Coats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Understand this, if you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Jason, we’ve been through this before. Lots of administrations. What’s the likelihood that they can find the leakers and really stop the leaks? And I have to say, there has been a torrent of leaks since this president took office.
JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, we should also distinguish between the types of leaks here. There’s leaking about what’s going on in the -- in the -- in the West Wing in terms of personnel, and then there’s the leak we had this week with regard to the conversations that -- that Trump is been having with other leaders, which I think are much, much more serious and of a different order. The president of the United States cannot speak in confidence to world leaders if there is --
WALLACE: There’s also been leaks, for instance, about Michael Flynn, that intel picked him up in surveillance.
RILEY: Those are going to be -- that -- that as well. The leaks, however, regarding the Russia investigation I think are going to be very difficult to stop. Ken Starr, the independent prosecutor under Bill Clinton, his office also had lots of leaking during that investigation. A lot of it was to gain leverage and witnesses, by the way. So they’re going to be very difficult to stop.
I think a problem that Trump has dates back to the campaign, though, and that has been his treatment of the intelligence community. He has a very dicey relationship with people who weaponized information for a living. And it’s dragged into his presidency and it’s still haunting him.
And -- and one thing that Attorney General Sessions said during that news conference this week is that the cabinet, the members of the administration, need to be more disciplined in terms of leaking. And I think he’s absolutely right. But the president himself, I think, has to also take the lead here. And I think he has to change his tone in how he’s been dealing with members of the intelligence community.
WALLACE: Rachel, as I discussed with Rod Rosenstein, it isn’t just members of the so-called "deep state" who are leaking. We -- we know, and we’ve known this for years, members of Congress leak, their staff leaks, White House officials leak, often times for political gain. What do you make of -- of what Rod Rosenstein said in the interview, which is, look, if it’s a White House official or it’s a member of Congress, we’re going to prosecute them. And as you -- s somebody who covers Congress, how much concern is there up there where leaking, frankly, is rampant?
RACHEL BADE, "POLITICO": I think that certainly shows that the Department of Justice is suspicious of that, some of the stuff that’s coming from The Hill. I think regarding the leaks announcement, it seems like this was sort of -- had some mixed reception when I talk to lawmakers about it after this press conference, and that was, on the one hand a lot of them are just as upset as Trump about these leaks. They find them to be a distraction from talking about their agenda. They’re at press conferences talking about bills they’re working on regarding veterans and reporters are raising their hands and saying, what do you think about this latest leak, this conversational the president had with the -- you know, the leader of Mexico, his comments. So, in that regard, they’re happy about DOJ going after the leaks.
But the second piece of this, they seem a little wary about going after reporters. And I think that that’s where you might see some of the Republicans on The Hill sort of stop short of praising. Right now the last thing the Republican Party needs when they’re trying to get their legislative agenda actually moving is a bunch of headlines saying that the Trump administration is jailing reporters who are refusing to give over their sources. And this is not something they want to see right now.
WALLACE: Rich, we got less than a minute left and I want to pick up on that.
Rosenstein seemed to be making a distinction, not where the president is apparently gone, which is prosecute reporters for doing the job. He said, no, we’re not going to do that but he indicated they might be tougher about trying to get reporters to disclose their sources so you can find out who the leakers are.
LOWRY: Right. That’s the most direct and simple way to find out who’s leaking. It’s also the most radioactive way. And if they end up subpoenaing reporters for their sources and they’re held in contempt because -- because they won’t give them up and then they’re in jail, it’s going to be portrayed as a war on the press and it will also be portrayed as retaliation for negative coverage since pretty much all the coverage from all the press is negative.
WALLACE: How do you feel about that?
LOWRY: I don’t think the press has immunity by any means. But I think in a highly damaging week that really hurts national security, as a last resort it’s something they should be willing to do.
WALLACE: All right, panel, we have to take a break here.
When we come back, Congress is off on summer break with a lot of unfinished business left behind. Will they get anything done when they return?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS, MAJORITY WHIP: What we need to do, I believe, in Congress is, not be distracted by the stories of the day. I understand you all have to cover those, but we don’t. What we need to do is maintain our focus on getting your work done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The number two Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn, warning Congress can’t afford to get sidetracked from its long legislative agenda when it returns from recess in September.
We’re back now with the panel.
Rachel, as somebody who covers Congress, what’s your read on health care? Is repeal and replace finished, dead, and what are the chances for a bipartisan compromise, what I was talking about with Senator Tillis, to try to stabilize the Obamacare markets?
BADE: Yes, there’s no sugarcoating it, Trump’s legislative agenda is in big trouble. From talking to Republicans before they left the hill for recess, I can tell you that most of them are saying privately they think repeal and replace is dead, at least for now. We are hearing a lot of chatter about a bipartisan bill to basically prop up Obamacare and make a few fixes, which is really interesting because it’s very different from what they campaigned on.
But Trump, in trying to get this moving, you know, was tweet at lawmakers calling them quitters, saying that they need to get this done, and he actually made a threat to unilaterally blow up the insurance exchanges by stopping federal payments for subsidies. And that has actually pushed Republicans closer to Democrats such that all the chatter I’m hearing on The Hill right now is about a bipartisan fix that would force him to make these payments.
WALLACE: But as I was discussing with Senator Tillis, you’re going to get a lot of people back home saying, you promised to repeal it, now you’re propping it up.
BADE: Oh, yes. Absolutely. You talk to conservatives on The Hill, the Freedom Caucus, you know, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, a lot of these guys are saying, let’s just repeal and then we can work on replace for the next few years. But the problem is, the Republican Party on The Hill, they’re so divided on this. You know, yes, everybody wants to get rid of Obamacare, but when it comes to actually putting together that replacement, they are all over the map right now.
WALLACE: Jason, health care is only part of it. When they get back in September, they’re only going to have a couple of weeks. They’ve got to fund the government. They’ve got to raise the debt limit. They really are nowhere on tax reform. And this Republican-controlled Congress has yet to pass and send to the president a single, major legislative goal.
BADE: Yes. And I think the difference here is that while the president doesn’t seem to be particularly worried about big, legislative accomplishments, nor does his base, a lot of these Republicans up for election next year in both the Senate and in the House want something to run on. And so they need something to go back home and campaigned on.
I agree that I -- I think that the health care reform repeal and replace is probably dead. I think they’re going to have to bail out the insurers. I’m hoping they can get something in return for doing that. Perhaps something with a the medical device tax, perhaps something on the individual mandate, but something in return because --
WALLACE: I’ve got to tell you, I talked to Nancy Pelosi hearing last week and I said, well, what are you going to give in return? And she looked at me like I was speaking martian.
RILEY: Well, the Democrats are very emboldened right now. I think Chuck Schumer, as well as Nancy Pelosi, both leaders are very emboldened. But that’s what I -- I hope that McConnell and folks can -- can wrangle something out of this in return.
But I do think -- this idea Trump has that they can let the exchanges fail and avoid being blamed, I don’t think is realistic. I think both the media and the Democrats will blame Republicans if these exchanges fail. And if Obamacare goes -- if there is -- if there’s no replacement in place yet.
WALLACE: Then there is the big news from the White House this week, and that is that retired four-star General John Kelly has taken over as chief of staff. President Trump gave his new man a big welcome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We just swore in General Kelly. He will do a spectacular job, I have no doubt, as chief of staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Rich, how much of a difference do you think John Kelly can make?
LOWRY: I think he can make a pretty serious difference. The problem with Reince Priebus, he never really had the authority to do the job properly and that he didn’t really have the -- he’s a very nice guy and didn’t have the personal bearing to make people pay attention to him. And that’s not a problem with John Kelly on either score. He has the rein of authority from the president. He has his military bearings. A little intimidating to people and makes -- makes people pay attention to him.
The problem, obviously, ultimately is at the top. And there’s no changing Donald Trump’s character in the way he operates. Although he saw in the campaign, you know, there was a -- there was a marginal difference between Corey Lewandowski Trump and Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Bannon Trump. And that difference might have just been enough to get him over the top in the election. So hopefully the Kelly difference will also be telling here.
WALLACE: You know, even before he took office, which was this past Monday, Kelly already was assuming power. He apparently called Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, the beleaguered attorney general, to tell him he was safe in his job. In a fight with conservatives who were going after the national security advisor, another general, H.R. McMaster, he has sided -- Kelly has sided with McMaster and strengthened him.
And I want to put up this picture that has just come out. This is John Kelly, over there on the far left. This is in the old executive office building addressing the entire White House staff late this week and telling them, you know, their responsibilities, the chain of command and saying, your duties first to country, second to the president. And as far as your own self-interest is concerned, that doesn’t count.
Some Trump supporters, Chuck, are suggesting that this could be a turning point in the Trump presidency. It that overly dramatic?
LANE: It -- you know, it depends on which kind of Trump supporters you’re talking about. Some see John Kelly as a savior, somebody who will stabilize and it will be a turning point in that sense. There are some Trump supporters who see this as a betrayal of the true Trump, that John Kelly is in some way being brought into blunt the sharp ideological edges, the nationalism and so forth that Trump had promised.
And, look, that White House is a snake pit. You talk about the military bearing of John Kelly impressing people. Well, H.R. McMaster has, I believe, three stars on his shoulder, but his military bearings hasn’t protected him from a campaign of vicious leaks coming from people within the White House who regard him as sort of a sell-out on foreign policy.
Kelly has to get --that’s -- he’s got his hands on that problem right now. And I think a lot of people inside the staff are looking to see if he can really get control of it because if he can, well, then I think he’ll have established his authority and people will do what he says. But if somehow people find ways to work around even John Kelly, if the back channeling directly to the president and sending him memos that, you know, reflect the latest Alex Jones conspiracy theory continues, then I think Kelly still has a problem on his hands.
WALLACE: You know, it’s so interesting because we’re learning a little bit more about the Trump White House under Priebus by hearing the changes that are being made now, Jason. One of the things that apparently -- that Kelly has done is he has closed the door to the president’s office because what used to happen is that people would just walk in, or people would bring in articles or --
RILEY: Like "Seinfeld." Sort of like "Seinfeld." People just barging in the door.
WALLACE: Yes. I hadn’t thought of that.
RILEY: This is a good move, putting Kelly in charge. But we’ve seen these bouts of sanity before. They don’t seem to last very long and that’s the problem. And there’s only so much Kelly can do. Obviously this week Trump was still out there commenting on an ongoing investigation regularly when he should have been answering questions as coyly as the deputy attorney general was with you earlier. I mean that’s the way you handle this, yet the president continues to sound off on this.
And these rivalries in the White House that we’re talking about in the West Wing, I think this Russia investigation is going to be hanging over these rivalries. I mean with people from Steve Bannon to Jared Kushner to Corey Lewandowski, under oath, when they are questioned by investigators, assuming that they will be, you know, will they turn on one another? Trump has been encouraging the competition since the campaign. These different power centers. And I think all of these investigations are going to hang over all of this intrigue in the West Wing while Trump is trying to govern and pursue his agenda.
LANE: Chris there -- if I may, there was a really interesting contradiction between what Trump said about this is a -- a hoax or a fabrication, and his own lawyer, Ty Cobb, who almost the same day or the day before said, we look forward to cooperating fully. And that’s the kind of stuff that just continues at the top.
WALLACE: I’ve got about 30 seconds, Rachel, here.
The view from Capitol Hill, how much did they see dysfunction in his White House? How hopeful are they about Kelly?
BADE: Oh, I think everything is riding on Kelly right now. A lot of people are talking about what he’s going to do in the White House. But this is an opportunity to push the reset button with The Hill. I think increasingly you’re seeing a dynamic shift between Hill Republicans and this Trump White House. And -- and that is -- they’re souring on each other. You know, the president’s tweeting out lawmakers. He’s calling them fools. He’s calling them quitters.
And convers, really you’re seeing a lot of lawmakers who are now pushing back against Trump and saying, we need to be a stronger check on him. The other day, in a Republican conference, somebody stood up and blamed the president for why health care field. So Kelly can repair those relationships, I think.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, Jane Goodall on her decades long work with chimpanzees and her continuing mission to save the planet.
WALLACE: She is an icon who set off to study a subject she loved since childhood. As we told you earlier this year, her findings are still inspiring generations. Here’s our "Power Player of the Week."
DR. JANE GOODALL, ACTIVIST & PRIMATOLOGIST: I’m away from home about 300 days a year. And that’s, you know, all over the world.
WALLACE (voice-over): Jane Goodall is 83 now, but she’s still on a mission, raising awareness and money to protect the planet and the animals who live here.
GOODALL: One of the greatest rewards I have is the number of people around the world who say thank you, Jane, you taught me that because you did it, I can do it too.
WALLACE (on camera): Why are you still keeping up such a schedule?
GOODALL: Because we humans, the most intellectual beings who have ever walked the planet, are very busily destroying our only home. How is that possible?
GOODALL: I have to find the (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE (voice-over): It was 1960 when Goodall, then 26, set out for the Gombe Animal Preserve in what is now Tanzania. She was trying to find the link between man and ape.
GOODALL: Exciting moment when I first saw a chimpanzee eating meat.
WALLACE: Observing chimpanzees in the jungle by herself, she discovered a number of links. The chimps can show compassion or wage war, but most important, the way they use twigs to hunt for termites.
GOODALL: A chimpanzee, when he strips leaves off a twig, is actually modifying a natural object is suit it to a specific purpose.
WALLACE (on camera): Why was that such an important discovery?
GOODALL: Because science thought at that time that humans, and only humans, used and made tools. We were defined as man, the toolmaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lead to the possible redefinition of the word "man."
WALLACE (voice-over): In 1965, National Geographic did a film about Goodall’s work that created a sensation.
GOODALL: It was kind of "Beauty and the Beast." And, I mean, the whole -- the whole thing wasn’t really about the science, it was about this young woman going out into the jungle. I became the "Geographic" cover girl.
WALLACE (on camera): The fact that you were such a striking girl didn’t hurt either, did it?
GOODALL: It didn’t hurt at all.
WALLACE (voice-over): As Goodall bonded with the chimpanzees, she even learned their language.
GOODALL: If I’m greeting you as a dominant male, because males are dominant and I would be (chimpanzee noises).
WALLACE (on camera): And if you were laughing?
GOODALL: (chimpanzee noises).
WALLACE: That’s a laugh?
GOODALL: (chimpanzee noises). Yes. That’s if I’m being tickled.
WALLACE (voice-over): Goodall ended her career as a field biologist 30 years ago, but she set up the Goodall Institute to continue research on chimps, as well as Roots and Shoots, to turn young people to 98 countries into conservation activists. Time is something Goodall thinks about now.
GOODALL: I don’t know how long I have. I don’t know how far it is to the end. But the end is -- the older you get, the nearer you get to that end. And I’ve still got so much to do.
WALLACE: This year, at Jane Goodall Institute is celebrating its 40th anniversary. To learn more about JGI, please go to our website, foxnewssunday.com.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next “Fox News Sunday.”
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