TRANSCRIPT

Did President Trump make the right decision about DACA?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," September 5, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly. We have no choice. We have to be able to do something, and I think it's going to work out very well, and long term it's going to be the right solution.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach.

TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: You should be building bridges of opportunity, not walls of discrimination.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: My challenge to the president is that you talk very glowingly about these kids. Help us. Help us in the House. Help us in the Senate. I think you are a good man. Get involved personally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: DACA, the so-called Dreamers, that program coming to an end announced by the attorney general today, saying -- the president saying the Congress now has to deal with it. Congress is dealing with a lot. As you look at the calendar, you can see by the end of September you have the government essentially running out of money. That's the funding deadline. You have the debt ceiling deadline on the 29th. You can see the Menendez trial. That is important for Senate numbers, starts just this Wednesday.

But you have lawmakers have until the end, the spending bill, risk a government shutdown of September. They have to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. That's already $25 billion in debt. They have to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by the end of the month. Also has to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, at the end of the month. And the special budget rules, the reconciliation that would allow not a 60 vote but a 51 vote for ObamaCare repeal and replace, that comes to an end at the end of the month too. And if they want to do that, they need to hurry up.

Let's bring in our panel and deal with all of this, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times, Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for Politico, and Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review. Jonah, let me start with you about DACA, the decision the president made, the defense of it, and what the critics are saying about it today.

JONAH GOLDBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Sure. I think on the constitutional or civic merits, President Trump made exactly the right decision. I don't think -- even the Obama administration said this was supposed to be temporary program. The title "D" in DACA is "deferred." It was always supposed to be followed up by real legislation. Presidents aren't supposed to make law.

And I think it's funny how so many liberals who've been screaming about how Donald Trump violates constitutional norms are now screaming that he is actually reverting to constitutional norms by saying no, the Congress is the body of government that writes laws.

On the other hand, political I think that this is a hot mess. I think that Donald Trump is setting up Congress for potentially disastrous failure, and at the same time he wants to punt this so he doesn't have to make this very hard decision that puts him either on the wrong side of his base or the wrong side of everybody else. And it's not at all clear to me that Ryan and McConnell can get anything past and put it on Trump's desk unless he takes this and actually fights for some legislation.

BAIER: Anna?

ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, I think the big question is going to be where does the president come out. Today he had his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, do the announcement. He has not publicly said what is a bill that he could sign. And you're up there on
Capitol Hill today, every lawmaker coming back from this August recess, there is no strategy on his on Capitol Hill for Republican about how they're going to be able to deal with it even though everyone is saying for the most part that they would like to get some kind of immigration package that includes DACA and some of the other border wall funding, other things that maybe would be some red meat to the Trump base.

BAIER: Here is, Charlie, how Rush Limbaugh characterized this today on his radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What Trump did today via Sessions, it's almost along the same lines as pulling out of the Paris accords. This has just, it's rocked them. They didn't think it would happen. Trump is not this callous. Trump is not this coldhearted. But Trump knows his base, and he knows the impact all of this has had on the American economy and American jobs. And he is following through on one of his most predominant campaign commitments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Characterize this. Is this a base play or is this because of the lawsuits that they truly believe that they couldn't uphold it or defend it in court?

CHARLES HURT, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON TIMES: I think it's probably most certainly both of them. And of course Jonah is exactly right. It does, it kind of rolls a grenade with the pin pulled into
Congress because it's going to be difficult for Congress to do something about this. But that just goes to show this is a very low bar that we are asking of them. It's amazing to sit here and listen to people on both sides of the aisle come out suddenly now that Donald Trump has done this and say, oh, no, this program is so good. We've got to do something about it. We want to help these people. And you're looking at them like, where have you been for the past 10 years?

And it's important to remember, and especially among Democrats, you had Barack Obama saying that this is a cruel move. You have Chuck Schumer talking today about how this is going to tear families apart. All of these people ran everything in this town in 2008 after President Obama got elected, and they didn't do a thing about it.

And of course Republicans are now in control and Republicans have come out today talking about how important it is to do something about this. My goodness, we all agree on this, then do something about it. It really does underscore, I think, Donald Trump isn't the one who did something wrong today. It's Congress that is continuing to mess things up.

BAIER: Jonah, you look at the calendar. As of tomorrow there are 11 legislative days for them to get all of this through. It's almost unheard of.

GOLDBERG: I honestly don't see how they can get all of it done. I think you're going to have to have some stuff just crammed together, maybe Harvey and what looks like Irma relief tied together with the debt ceiling which I think is actually perfectly defensible for the reasons that Mnuchin said.

But the idea that they are going to get -- Congress does not do a very good job of making good legislation when it has a lot of time on its hands. This is like a bad episode of MacGyver where they have to get the bomb defused and they are still 10 miles away from the bomb and they only got give minutes to get there.

BAIER: He always pulls it out in the end.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but the Republican Party doesn't. So I don't know how this is going to play itself out, but that's something falling by the wayside.

BAIER: Anna, likely some of these things are going to get punted, like they usually do, to some later date, and we are likely looking again at a continuing resolution for the funding of the government.

PALMER: Yes, absolutely. I think what they are tying, what is trying to find some kind of package where you could have raise the debt ceiling funding for the next several months, maybe into December, and then you could have another possible shutdown showdown on Capitol Hill again.

I think as Jonah said, Congress rarely acts unless it has to. That has been the way it has been working and operating for the last several years. So as much as we are talking about DACA right now and Dreamers, I wouldn't expect anything to get done until right at that six month period where it's kind of you have to vote on something or not. They just don't operate in a way that they do things when they aren't forced by the calendar.

BAIER: Meantime, they're setting up the table, Charlie, for tax reform down the road before the end of the year, they hope. But is it possible to shoot the gap and get some kind of immigration thing done this summer?

HURT: I think it will certainly be tough, but there's something about the jet fumes around here, when they get up hard against an opportunity to go home, they start thinking about what those town halls are going to be like when they get home, and they get to worrying about their own careers. And then of course you have on top of that this opportunity to spend eight, 10, $12 billion on hurricane relief. Usually it's not pretty what they had a putting together, but usually they wind up putting something together.

BAIER: We will see where the deficit hawks stand on all of this this week. A busy time in September. Charlie, Anna, Jonah, thank you.

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