Secretary Nielsen talks border security, immigration reform

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," January 14, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


A false alarm of a missile attack on Hawaii sets off widespread panic. And chances for an immigration deal are set back as President Trump used a shocking language to question why the U.S. should accept people from Africa and Haiti.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love and we can do that.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILLINOIS: These are vile comments, calling the nations they come from (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

WALLACE: Will the backlash sink an immigration compromise? We’ll ask the new security of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, who joins us live.

Then --

XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is time for Congress to give us a lasting solution that will leave no doubt that the Dreamers are Americans and that they are here to stay.

WALLACE: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a son of Mexican immigrants, calls on Congress to protect the Dreamers as a federal judge blocked the administration's rollback of DACA.

It's a FOX NEWS SUNDAY exclusive.

Plus, the president imposes new sanctions on Iran but decides not to blow up the nuclear deal for now.

We’ll ask our Sunday panel what happens next in U.S. relations with Iran.

And our "Power Player of the Week".

Which is tougher, politics or football?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was born to play football, and now be having a transition from the field to the Hill.

WALLACE: How an NFL star wound up working for the speaker of the House.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.

On this Martin Luther King holiday weekend, the nation's capital is still reeling from president Trump's incendiary remarks about immigrants from Africa and Haiti.

His comments have reignited the debate of whether the president is a racist, and they have also derailed progress on a bipartisan deal on immigration, a setback that could lead to a government shutdown midnight Friday.

Joining me now for an exclusive interview, the new secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.

Welcome to "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: Before we get to immigration, let's discuss that false alarm in Hawaii yesterday.

Just after 8:00 yesterday morning, people across the state got this alert: Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.

People were understandably terrified for 38 minutes before they got the all clear. Now, it turns out it was a state official who hit the wrong button. But as the head of federal DHS, what have you learned about the state of emergency preparedness in that state and across the country?

NIELSEN: You know, I think this is a very important topic and I just want to encourage everyone first and foremost not to draw the wrong conclusion. So, I would hate for anybody not to abide by alert warnings coming from government systems. They can trust government systems, we test them every day. This is a very unfortunate mistake.

But these alerts are vital, seconds and minutes can save lives. So, first, I would encourage everyone not to draw the wrong conclusions. Secondly, from a DHS perspective, we are looking with state and locals to ensure not only that the messaging is clear, but what to do next is clear as well, how we can best support them and work with them.

As you know, they are on the first lines and they are the first responders. Unfortunate situation, but we are all working together to make sure it doesn't happen again.

WALLACE: But, you know, this raises questions not only about emergency alerts, and as you say generally, we can -- we can trust him. It also raises questions about civil defense.

You know, I remember as a kid in the '50s, we’d all gone (ph) to public school, we’d get under desk and repair for the nuclear attack. When looking back on it, it's laughable. We don't have bomb shelters today, we did not have that kind of civil defense.

God forbid, if this were a real attack, if the North Koreans or somebody else had fired a missile over the horizon at an American city, what should folks on the ground do?

NIELSEN: It’s a good -- it's a good question. Of course, it depends on where you are and what the particular type of threat is. So, in this case, citizens who are in that could be affected, should look at any guidance and advice that comes out from the government.

FEMA has a whole variety of measures and preparedness of things they can do. Sometimes it's shelter in place. Sometimes as you saw in Hawaii, if you are in a car, they asked you to get out of the car and lay flat on the ground. So, it just depends, but the government has provided tremendous amounts of information we should all seek it out and make sure we know what we need to do as citizens.

WALLACE: Is it true that the Trump administration has not conducted a full scale exercise to plan for this kind of an event, and if so, how soon are you going to order a full scale exercise among all the principals and the government?

NIELSEN: So, when we look at response we all act under something called the national response framework. We test that very frequently. We use different scenarios.

We did have what's called a deputies committee. So, that's the deputy secretaries of the department, exercised in December specific to this threat and we had already planned to have that principal cabinet level exercise, if you will, early next month. We will continue on that.

But the national exercise program is very robust, as well as it should be. We need to both provide action after a real event and, of course, prepare for events unfortunately might befall us.

WALLACE: Let's turn to that meeting at the president held with a half dozen members of Congress on Thursday. They were discussing immigration from Africa.

And according to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin the president said this.


SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILLINOIS: That’s when he used these vile and vulgar comments, calling the nations they come from (EXPLETIVE DELETED) holes. The exact words used by the president, not more -- not just once, but repeatedly.


WALLACE: Secretary, you were in that meeting in the Oval Office. Did the president say that?

NIELSEN: I don't recall him saying that exact phrase. I think he has been clear and I would certainly say undoubtedly the president will use, continue to use strong language when it comes to this issue. He feels very passionate about it.

I think what was frustrating about that meeting for all of us in the meeting was that although the deal presented in theory and approach to the four pillars upon which we had agreed, did not address the core security issues that we need to do our job. And more importantly, there's nothing in there that would prevent us from getting here again.

So, we’re not interested in half measures. We don't want additional temporary populations here. It's unfair to them, it's unfair to American citizens and it certainly raises security risks.

WALLACE: I don’t understand -- I’m just going to press back on you once on this subject. It seems to me -- you were in the meeting when these comments were made. I can understand you either saying they were sad or they were not said. It is pretty shocking language and to say I don't recall seems implausible.

If the president of the United States use the word blank-hole talking about countries in the Oval Office or didn't say it, I would know.

NIELSEN: I understand the question. It was an impassioned conversation. I don't recall that specific phrase being used, that's all I can say about that.

WALLACE: There are several things about the president's comments, alleged comments, and are both Republicans and Democrats who confirm that he sent it. One is the president seems to be writing off people who come from black countries, while he saying we should take people coming from one of the whitest countries on earth, Norway.

Here was a comment from an official at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.


RUPERT COLVILLE, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SPOKESMAN: I’m sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as of (EXPLETIVE DELETED), whose entire populations who are not white, and therefore not welcome.


WALLACE: Isn't that the definition of racism, to say we don't want people from these black countries, but we do want people from a very white country?

NIELSEN: I think what the president is saying is he’d like to move to merit-based, which is based on an individual. So, whether individuals can come here and can contribute to our society, help our economy, assimilating communities, and help America be better.

I take a little bit of offense to the comments and suggestions that the president is racist. What he's looking at is the exact merit-based system we have in Australia and Canada. I’m sure that we are not, any of us, suggesting that Canada and Australia and their leaders are racists.

WALLACE: But the president seems in these comments to be equating merit to the countries that people come from. He seems to be suggesting you’d rather have a janitor from Norway than a doctor from Haiti.

NIELSEN: I disagree. I think --

WALLACE: Why would merit have to do with the country? Why would it have to do with your qualifications?

NIELSEN: I think it does. I think what he's trying to do is move away from a quota based system, whether that's a quota of underrepresented countries or a quota of Norway, for example. I think what he's trying to say is we need to look at the individual and ensure that we look at those who can bring merit to our country.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to the practical implication of that because the big question in Washington now is chances for a deal on DACA. The president tweeted out this morning, and let's put it up on the screen.

DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our military.

One, is DACA dead? Is there a chance for it? And is the president willing to see the government shutdown if Democrats insist on linking a DACA deal to funding for the government before it runs out of money midnight on Friday?

NIELSEN: I do not believe DACA is dead, but what I would say is for my perspective, of course, as the secretary of homeland security, it's not a DACA deal. It's a security immigration deal. What my role this is, is to ensure that we don't end up here again. We must close these loopholes to ensure that these temporary populations not only are not encouraged to take the dangerous journey to get there, but then when they get there, we are able to promptly remove them so we don't end up with the category of DACA again.

In terms of the funding, what I would say is in my opinion where I sit it's completely responsible to tie the two together. We need to fund our troops, we need to protect them, we need to increase homeland security. These are vital national security interest we need to fund. To tie them into a DACA deal or the actual expiration date is in March is irresponsible.

WALLACE: So, if the Democrats insist on linkage and the government shuts down, that's on them?

NIELSEN: Well, it would be very unfortunate if they continue to do that. They are not the same conversation. I think you heard Democratic leaders say just that in the past.

WALLACE: One more DACA question. A federal judge this week blocked the administration decision to phase out DACA and wrote of -- and let's put this on the screen.

A plausible inference that racial animus towards Mexicans and Latinos was a motivating factor in the decision to end DACA.

Your reaction to that and how quickly will the administration appeal that judge's decision blocking the phasing out of DACA?

NIELSEN: On the appeal, I’d refer to the attorney general. We will be in close contact on that.

With respect to the quote, I find that offensive on its face. I took an oath when I became secretary of homeland security to defend and support the Constitution. The program was unconstitutional.

What we should be focused on instead of these court interventions and these distractions is that we need a permanent solution. We have said that, I have said that, the president has said that. We want to find a permanent solution to the DACA population, not a continual three-year renewal period.

WALLACE: All right. In the short period of time we have left, I want to ask you about some of the issues that are facing your department. Border apprehensions are down 40 percent in 2017, which some administration officials have called the Trump effect. But in December, there was a significant increase as the border patrol caught more than 40,000 people attempting illegal crossings.

Why has it gone back up?

NIELSEN: It's a great question and I appreciate you asking because I think it's very important for the viewers to understand this.

The problem is that we have so many loopholes within our legal system based on a panoply of court decisions, confusion with respect to the laws and how we can enforce them that if you are in the South or Central America, those who would wish to smuggle you are able to tell you if you get to America you can stay. So, more and more are willing to undertake the journey because there is no way for me to promptly remove them.

So, we talk about the wall, the wall is a very, very important part of this. It works, but it only gets us partway there because if I can stop them at the border but I can't remove them, that's not border security. And they will continue to come.

WALLACE: So, what some people are saying is the reason it's going back up is because for all the tough talk from the president, people in Central America, smugglers and people wanting to come across, they finally decided the system really hasn't changed.

NIELSEN: The system is worse. Every time a court makes a patchwork decision based on one individual, we continue to exacerbate the systemic failure of the system. My troops (ph) cannot remove those that they apprehend, whether they are criminals in some cases or whether there are multiple repeat illegal entry. We have to change these loopholes so that we can promptly remove them.

WALLACE: Finally, this week, federal agents raided 98 7-Eleven stores in 17 states in the District of Columbia, resulting in 21 arrests. Will you order more raids on employers in this country, and what’s the message you're trying to send?

NIELSEN: Yes, and the message we're trying to send is if you consistently and willfully disregard the laws that the Congress and the American people have passed, and you will be held accountable. These are not accidental hiring as illegal immigrants. Some of these countries unfortunately have continually and systematically tried to get around the system. Hire illegal aliens, which affects the ability of the American workers, but it also continues to encourage those who might not otherwise take the journey to take the journey.

So, we are looking to the employers to try to stop this bad behavior and hold them accountable.

WALLACE: Secretary Nielsen, thank you.

NIELSEN: Oh, it’s my pleasure.

WALLACE: Thanks for coming into this holiday weekend. Please come back.

NIELSEN: I would love to.


NIELSEN: Thank you so much.

WALLACE: Up next, reaction from Xavier Becerra, who is California's attorney general, has filed several lawsuits against the Trump administration on immigration issues, and just won a temporary reprieve for the Dreamers. That's next.


WALLACE: Just before President Trump's shocking comments this week about immigrants from Africa and Haiti, a federal judge in California blocked his move to end DACA.

Joining me now from Sacramento, Xavier Becerra, attorney general of California and a former Democratic congressional leaders who filed that lawsuit.

Mr. Attorney General, you just heard Secretary Nielsen. What’s your reaction to her defense of the president's position in that meeting with Senator Durbin and others this week?

XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Chris, I don't know if it's defensible, and it's disturbing to see so many people with such short-term memory losses and the inability to recall a conversation, important conversation that has taken place just a few days ago. Can you imagine what happens when you have a conversation about nuclear war or what we do about natural disasters and you have a room of people who can't remember what was said just a few days ago? That's dangerous.

WALLACE: Do you think President Trump is a racist?

BECERRA: In every respect, what he is showing us is that he is a racist.

Let me put it to you this way -- mental instability, mendacity, now bigotry. Having any one of those in the White House is dangerous. Having the combination? That's lethal.

WALLACE: What about the argument -- get beyond the words, and I understand the words are hard to get beyond. But this question of merit based immigration what about the argument that too many of our immigration programs, family unification, or as it's also called chain migration, visa lotteries, do more to help people from other countries than they do to attract and to bring in people to this country who can best help us?

BECERRA: I can only speak to you, Chris, from the perspective of a son of two of those immigrants. And I can simply tell you that with a man who had a chance to go to the sixth grade, a mother who didn't get past 18 years of age when she finally got here, both of them never having had a chance to step on a college campus. They did a great job of getting four kids a college education or military service and a man who couldn't walk into a restaurant when he was young because of the sign that said no dogs or Mexicans allowed, well, because of his children had a chance to walk into the White House to meet the president of the United States. Not this one, but the president of the United States.

So, in every respect, my dad, a proverbial ditch digger, built this country. And now, the results are that his grandkids are going to some of the finest colleges and universities and they are not going on any taxpayer's dime because their parents can afford to have them go.

My mom was a whiz when it came to finances, and because of them, today, they live in retirement, better than they ever lived when they were both working.

Those are two examples of immigrants who came to this country with little and gave so much.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the situation here in Washington right now because Democrats are threatening to shut down the government, to refuse to vote for another funding bill when the government runs out of money at midnight Friday if they don't get a deal on DACA. I -- this seems to directly contradict something that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said a few years ago when the Republicans were threatening President Obama. Take a look.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NEW YORK: We believe strongly in immigration reform. We can say we are shutting down the government, we’re not going to raise the debt ceiling until you pass immigration reform. It would be governmental chaos.


WALLACE: Mr. Attorney General, if it was wrong for Republicans to threaten a Democratic president and to threaten to hold the government hostage, why is it all right for Democrats to do exactly the same thing?

BECERRA: Chris, I don't believe Democrats are doing anything to try to hold up a government funding bill. They are just not agreeing with the outlines of what Republicans have put forward in the Republican funding bill. And they are objecting to this budget because right after -- less than a month after passing a $1.5 trillion tax break bill which benefited mostly the super-rich and corporations, all of a sudden, having used the government credit card to pay for that, now Republicans want to cut benefits for veterans, for seniors, for students, for working-class Americans to pay for that tax cut.

WALLACE: Wait, wait --


BECERRA: Democrats are saying, we’re not going to take part in that.

WALLACE: Number one, they haven't called for cutting all those benefits. Number two, that's not specifically the question I’m asking you. I’m asking you specifically about the fact that Democrats are saying no deal on spending. I agree, they have to work out the spending deal -- but no deal on spending and less you also pass a DACA fix. That's what some people say is holding the government hostage.

Do you think the Democrats should link funding for the government to a deal on DACA?

BECERRA: Chris, if you listen closely what Democrats have been saying is that we need to have a deal on DACA because President Trump, by trying to repeal DACA has created this chaos.

I will tell my Democratic friends the following: DACA is now actually alive and Homeland Security Department is now accepting renewal applications. So, it's nowhere near dead.

I would hope it would not agree to any bad deals on immigration, talking really bad stuff that has nothing to do with helping our borders in order to get a DACA deal. That DACA deal should stand on its own, it should be clean. Worrying about the budget is what Republicans and the majority in the House and the Senate should be doing because otherwise the government shuts down.

And so, Republicans are threatening to shut down the government unless they get a whole bunch of bad stuff on immigration. And I believe Democrats are saying, let's do a clean fix on DACA because it has nothing to do with the budget. If we could tie it all together, great, but don't try to hold young people hostage to get a budget and certainly don't try to load up a bill with that stuff whether in the budget or on immigration.


WALLACE: Let me just interrupt because I’m closer to Washington now than you were, although you were a Democratic leader here for years.

But no, the Democrats are -- Republicans rather are not insisting on linking DACA and immigration. They just want to pass a funding bill and, in fact, they are talking about a three or four-week continuing resolution.

Let me switch to another subject, because you brought up the fact that DACA is alive and well now. And one of the reasons it’s alive and well is because you as California's attorney general filed a lawsuit where the judge agreed to stop the phasing out of DACA by March.

I want to ask you about that because this -- it seems to me, sir, is not the no-brainer that some people suggested. President Obama didn't even create the DACA act. It didn't even protect the Dreamers until 2012, almost four full years into his term when he was running for reelection. Why doesn't, just as a matter of principle and law, why doesn't President Trump have the same right to end DACA? And in fact, he doesn't want to end DACA. He just wants to be a congressional law, not an executive action.

But why doesn't he have the same right to move on DACA that President Obama did when he started four years into his term?

BECERRA: Chris, because no person in this country, even the president, is above the law. If he wants to take an action he must do it according to the law.

And as the judge held in this case, the president and his administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously. And so, that's why we've been able to have several victories. It's kind of poetic that the son of immigrants is the person wielding the legal slingshot against the Trump administration's attacks on our constitutional civil rights.

But the reason we keep winning, in fact, we are batting a thousand against this administration is because the president believes he is above the law and he continues to act arbitrarily and capriciously and taking action. If you want to change the law, Chris, don't break it.

WALLACE: Well, I’m not sure I understand how he's breaking it. He was saying this was an executive order taken by the president. It wasn't even a law and here you had Donald Trump saying I am resending that executive order giving six months to do so.

Why is that breaking the law?

BECERRA: Because, Chris, you go about a process. Even President Obama went about a process to establish an executive order. You go about a process.

Remember, you have a whole bunch of people in this country when our government takes action, they start to rely on the representations of our government, to their detriment. And so, whether it's the consumer who decides to get health care or the consumer who decides to go send his kids to particular college, it's based on certain representation oftentimes that the government says, we will be there in this respect of health care or an education or on immigration.

And if you are going to try to unwind that you've got to do it through the right process, and clearly the president has continued to be arbitrary and capricious in the way he's tried to undo things. And that's why as I said before we haven't lost a case yet against Donald Trump, a guy who should know how to operate in the courts since he's been sued or sued himself thousands of times.

WALLACE: All right. I got one final question. I got less than a minute left.

You have condemned the president's decision to remove temporary protected status from Salvadorans and there are 50,000 of them living in California who have been here since the earthquakes in El Salvador way back in 2001.

The question I have though, sir, just as a kind of matter of common sense. The earthquakes ended. The devastation was repaired. Why are people still here 17 years later on temporary protected status?

BECERRA: Clearly, things are broken both in those countries that sent a lot of those immigrants and in our own immigration system. And over the course of some two decades, those individuals who were the victims of that broken system on both sides have --


WALLACE: But it wasn’t a political system, sir. It was earthquakes. They came in because of a natural disaster. Why should they stay here?

There are a lot of broken countries, that doesn't mean we take them all in.

BECERRA: We don’t. And we don’t.

Why should we take them in over an earthquake that happened 17 years ago? Continue to have them here?

BECERRA: We don't. And, Chris, we don’t. What we do is we tell the country get yourself -- get back on your feet. We’re not going to try to make things more difficult for you to get back on your feet.

Two decades have gone by. Those individuals in this country have now established businesses. They have gone to schools here. They have families here. And to, all of a sudden, just jerked the rug from underneath them, I don't think it's the American way.

And I do believe Congress should try to resolve this because it is a program that was not meant to be permanent. But Congress could take action as it has in the past to address it. And I think it would be only correct and right to do so because these are people who have made major investments in this country to make it better.

WALLACE: Attorney General Becerra, thank you. Thanks for your time. It's always good to talk to you whether it's here in Washington or in California.

BECERRA: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss where Congress is in talks about immigration and spending, with the clock ticking down to a government shutdown midnight Friday.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR: Coming up, Congress continues work on an immigration bill as the clock ticks down to a government shutdown.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-MINORITY LEADER: A resolution to the DACA issue must be part of a global deal on the budget.


WALLACE: We'll ask our Sunday panel if Congress can get a deal done and what will happen to the dreamers, next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When this group comes back, hopefully with an agreement, this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I'm signing it. I think I will be signing it. I'm not going to say, oh, gee, I want this or I want that.


WALLACE: President Trump on Tuesday predicting smooth sailing for a DACA deal of that televised meeting with two dozen members of Congress. Of course, all that fell apart later this week in an explosive meeting in the Oval Office.

And it's time now for our Sunday group.

Former press secretary to Vice President Pence, Marc Lotter, columnist for The Hill, Juan Williams, Adrienne Elrod, former director of strategic communications for Hillary Clinton's campaign, and John Bussey from The Wall Street Journal.

Well, Marc, I understand the argument intellectually that we should go to a merit-based system of immigration, but I want to pick up on the discussion I had with Secretary Nielsen because what troubles a lot of people is the idea that we're equating country of origin with merit and -- and -- and it raises the issue, what's better, as I said, a janitor from Norway or a doctor or an engineer from Haiti?

MARC LOTTER, FORMER VP PENCE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I don't think the president is talking about making any kind of geographic or quotas based on any country. He's --

WALLACE: But he did say that.

LOTTER: Well, what he was saying is that -- he's basically saying, because right now under the current system we are -- we are have -- we do have quotas. We do have random lotteries where people, not based on their skill, just because they apply, our allowed entry into our country. He's basically saying that let's judge the people who want to come and move to America based on who they are, not where they're from.

WALLACE: Juan -- I mean, forgive me, it doesn't seem to me that's what the president said and --

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think -- that's not what the reporting indicates. The reporting indicates that --

WALLACE: And -- and then let me -- let me just put up first --


WALLACE: Before -- I'll get to you in a second, what House Speaker Paul Ryan said reacting to the president's comments.


REP. PAUL RYAN, R-HOUSE SPEAKER: My family, like a whole lot of people, came from Ireland on what they called coffin ships then, came here and worked the railroads. The Irish were really looked down upon back in those days. I here all these stories from my relatives about Irish need not apply.


WALLACE: And that, I guess, is the point. Throughout our history, people come to this country because the situation in their countries is bad and it's often the best and the brightest who take the initiative to take that step to sail across the Atlantic Ocean or fly across the Atlantic Ocean from a much worse situation.

WILLIAMS: Correct. And I think that that's why, you know, on the Statue of Liberty we have emblazon that phrase, that American idea that we will take your people who are burdened, oppressed, you know, people who have been left behind and judged to be inferior and we make them. And I think this is what Lindsey Graham was saying to the president in the Oval Office. Come to America and adapt the idea of this as a place of opportunity and political freedom and stability. And that's -- that's the American idea. It's not based on where you come from, certainly not the Irish that you just heard Paul Ryan talk about, not for Italians, not for Jews, not for Catholics. At one point in our history, all those groups have come up against this kind of bigotry. So I think for Paul Ryan to say this is unhelpful, huh, how about, you know, say clearly that this is racist and un-American?

WALLACE: I just want you to respond before I bring everybody else in.

LOTTER: Well, again, I think what we are talking about here is, in the future. I mean we -- we have a great history of immigration. And no one can -- and no one debates that. And no one -- and on one debates the countless contributions that have been made by immigrants and now second, third, multiple generations of immigrants to our country.

But as we are moving forward, as we face challenges in terms of homeland security, and as we are trying to get more people jobs in America, putting American workers above the needs of other people who may not be coming in here with the skills to be able to compete. There was a study that said over half of immigrant lead families are receiving some sort of welfare. Three quarters of those families with children are receiving some sort of welfare. Can we -- can we not look at who we are bringing in? And that's what the president is saying, not necessarily where you're from, that's -- that's --

WALLACE: But -- but he didn't say that. He did say exactly where they're from. He didn't say, you know, we need to bring in doctors and engineers. We don't need to bring in ditch diggers.

LOTTER: Let's look at the context of what that conversation was about. In this -- in this immigration --

WALLACE: I'm not -- I mean it was what -- the language he used, sir.

LOTTER: Well, I understand. But when you look at the way that the context of that conversation, it was -- it was supposedly in a broad immigration discussion and it was also talking about TPS.

WILLIAMS: What he's talking about is the lottery program --

LOTTER: Where we're talking about some of those --

WILLIAMS: And in the lottery system, what he clearly said was, why do we need people from these s-hole countries because right now they're underrepresented. And the reason the lottery exists is to make sure that there's more adequate representation of people who have not been coming.

WALLACE: All right, let me -- let me --

WILLIAMS: And he spoke not about the countries when saying that, but about the people who would be included in the lottery. That's why it's so personal to people like me.

WALLACE: Let me bring in Adrienne.

This is a good moment. You're a Democratic -- or strategist. This is a good moment for Democrats. A good political moment for Democrats. But should they actually take the final step they're threatening to take, which is to link DACA and a deal on DACA to funding the government and risk a government shutdown? Is that smart politics?

ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, absolutely it is. And here's why, Chris.

Number one, Democrats have absolutely no control in the -- of the House, or the Senate, or the White House. Republicans have full control right now. This is the only bargaining chip that Democrats have. We are tired of seeing these DACA recipients not have a fix. We are tired of watching Republicans play, you know, political football with their lives. This is our last bargaining chip. January 19th is the last train coming.

So, look, Democrats have made it very clear, we will compromise on DACA and we will have border -- stronger border security. We will make a compromise. But we are absolutely not going to allow DACA recipients any longer to live in the state of limbo.


JOHN BUSSEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: You know something, I -- this seems to be an issue, again, about messaging from the president. Marc's interpretation of his remarks is a generous one, right, that he's really talking about it being a meritocracy. We -- we're going to get more physicists from Norway than we are going to get from -- from Haiti. That's the generous interpretation.

The failure of the message is that it leaves open this big discussion of whether or not the president is a racist because of the language that he chose. Similarly, coming off of that Tuesday meeting, which was an incredible hit for him, that was a remarkable public relations success for the president, looking very presidential, having Democrats and Republicans in the room, getting along civilly over disagreements that were fundamental to the two parties. And then the very next day having -- having changed the narrative away from Russia, away from the "Fire and Fury" book the questioned his mental stability, the very next day coming back and attacking the courts on their DACA decision, on saying that he's going to change the libel laws so that books can't be written about him that are negative. On attacking Dianne Feinstein that morning the day before she sat across from him at the table.

This is what's working against the president in any negotiation over DACA, over the spending bill, over immigration in general.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about a different aspect of this though because the president took some heat from that big televised meeting because a lot of people in his base said he seemed too soft, to open, let's get a deal, let's -- I'll sign anything you want. Maybe he didn't intend to do it quite the way that he did it, but aren't there some people in his base who are going to be reassured by the hard line he took in that Oval Office meeting?

BUSSEY: Absolutely. And we saw some very far right wing elements say, hey, we liked the language of, you know, s-hole that you used. But is that in his interest right now? He's looking at 2018. Some very dicey elections, campaign coming up. He -- it's in his interest to have a win on DACA, on the spending bill. It's in the interest of the Democrats similarly. They are fairly close, honestly, to reaching some kind of agreement. Democrats have agreed to spend something on a version of a wall, whatever it might be. That gives the president a fig leaf, some face, while also getting DACA advanced. Why not close that deal as opposed to endangerment it right before the CR expires, when it's in the interest of the Democrats to show a dysfunctional White House.

ELROD: And, Chris, the votes are there. I mean if we're looking at a bipartisan bill, the votes are there. There are enough Democrats and Republicans who will come together on this bill and supported a DACA fix, whether it's a clean DACA fix or whether it's a DACA fix that actually has a border security element. We even have the progressive wing of the party, senators like Kamila Harris, who have said, I will support a border security agreement as well, or border security -- strengthening border security. But ultimately the votes are there. Republicans have the task of actually putting this bill on the floor.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but the question is what happens when talk -- right wing talk radio. Ann Coulter said it was the lowest moment of the American -- of Trump's presidency this week because he engaged in that kind of talk. And I think you can see this now that the far right, the Freedom Caucus, is really going to put heat on him and he says this week in the meeting, John, he says, I'll take the heat. Well, Mr. President, this is your chance because the votes are there.



WALLACE: All right, folks, we have to take a break here. When we come back, President Trump says he won't re-impose sanctions on Iran and the nuclear deal, but he gives Congress and European allies a deadline of 120 days to fix the agreement.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the deal? Should the U.S. stick with it or rip it up? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.


WALLACE: President Trump back in October reluctantly agreeing to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, but the White House announced Friday Congress and our European allies have 120 days to fix it or the U.S. will pull out. And we're back now with the panel.

John, the president is demanding two big changes to the Iran nuclear deal. I want to put them up on the screen.

First, inspectors must have access to any site they want in Iran. And, second, elimination of so-called sunset provisions that Iran would be able to restart parts of its nuclear program in ten or 15 years. Is there any reason to believe that either Iran or our European allies, who negotiated this deal with us, are going to agree to rewrite it?

BUSSEY: Yes, he wants a third thing, too, which is something said about their missile program, containing their missile program. Those are three things that a lot of people can agree on, that these are issues that need to be resolved before we move ahead with continuing the program as it is, on the left, on the right, in Europe and here.

The problem is, there's an agreement and it's set. And it took a long time to get to it. There are six countries that are signers of that agreement, not just us, five others, with Iran, that -- that have signed that agreement that don't agree with the United States on reopening it. France has said no. Germany's not encouraging this. China and Russia. The United Kingdom. They're not in favor of kind of reopening this.

So the president may find himself on the outs with his allies and Iran. And this might be something like we saw with TPP, where we move away from an agreement, but the agreement has a life of its own. There (INAUDIBLE) with Iran. We would just be on the out of that as we are with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on that. We asked you for questions for the panel and we got this on Facebook from Michael P. Mulhall, who incidentally we have put up questions from before. So good for Michael. What are the possible consequences to the U.S. -- to the U.S., should the Trump administration decertified the Obama Iran nuclear deal?

Juan, how do you answer Michael?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think it's two levels. One is, I think if you decertify, it makes it more likely, not less likely, that Iran gets nukes and therefore is a greater threat to our important ally Israel in the Middle East. The second thing to say is it signals to our allies that we are not to be trusted having signed a deal. We signed that deal, made a deal, and America has to keep its word going forward if, as we heard in the question, people are asking about U.S. as an effective negotiator in any international arena.

WALLACE: Michael will have a follow-up for you.

WILLIAMS: I think -- and I'm looking forward to Michael's next question.

WALLACE: No, I -- we get questions from him every week. We appreciate that, Michael. Probably (INAUDIBLE) here on the panel.

There's another big story brewing. There are reports that the president's legal team is negotiating with the special counsel's team, Robert Mueller's team, about terms for an interview in the Russia investigation. Last June Mr. Trump said that he would 100 percent be willing to answer questions, but it was a different story this week. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Certainly I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody has found any collision at any level, it seems unlikely that you'd even have an interview.


WALLACE: Adrienne, what happens if the president decides he is not going to sit down with Robert Mueller and his team?

ELROD: Well, look, he has a couple of options. I mean, number one, and I think his attorneys would probably do this, they would say, maybe before we actually sit down with you for an interview, Mr. Mueller, let's think about, you know, maybe a signed affidavit or answering questions in a written context. But, ultimately, the president of the United States, he owes this to the American people to explain, in his own words, what happened. If there was really no collusion with Russia, then sitting down with Special Counsel Mueller should not even be an issue with him.

So, again, he is the president of the United States. He certainly has the option to plead the, you know, the fifth. But essentially if he wants to get to the bottom of this investigation and restore any sort of public trust --

WALLACE: But what would Democrats do if the president pleaded the fifth?

ELROD: Well, I think it would be a real -- I think it would be a real big problem. He certainly has that option. I don't think it's politically tenable for him to do it, but he certainly has that option as any American would under our constitutional rights. But, ultimately, if he wants to nip this in about the bud, he needs to have a conversation and needs to do it in an interview format with the special counsel.

WALLACE: Marc, do you think it's possible that the president will refuse to sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller?

LOTTER: I don't know. I mean the president's personal layers right now are dealing with a special counsel on that. They have been cooperative from the beginning. They continue to be cooperative. So they'll have those discussions. I mean, who knows, maybe they're asking right now if they can get the Hillary Clinton treatment, you know, on an interview with the FBI where, you know, you do it and then the decision's already been made beforehand.

So I don't know what those details are, but, you know, he's been very transparent. There's still no evidence of collusion. And we'll trust the lawyers to work that out.

WALLACE: Adrienne, which like to respond to the (INAUDIBLE) Hillary Clinton?

ELROD: No, I just -- I just think -- I think from the broad context, it's -- I find it so laughable that every time Republicans have -- that this issue comes up, you guys immediately pivot to, you know, bringing Secretary Clinton in to try to deflect from, you know, the real issue here. So --

LOTTER: Well, so far that is still the only collusion that's been proven.

ELROD: OK. All right. Well, that is -- that is your take, not --

BUSSEY: But this is not about collusion alone.

ELROD: Exactly.

BUSSEY: This is -- there's an obstruction of justice question that's outstanding. And so the administration pivots to collusion when it should be answering the question, is Mueller wanting to talk to the president about the possibility of obstruction of justice?

WILLIAMS: Yes, not only that, there's a constitutional crisis in the making here if the president refuses to talk to Mueller because then you put the Congress in the position of saying to the president, you must comply. In order to have credibility for our justice system, this to be a country of laws, the president, as the chief law enforcement officer, cannot be exempt from the laws of the United States.

WALLACE: Well, and that raises this specific question --

ELROD: Right.

WALLACE: And, again, all of this is speculative, but Robert Mueller could go to a court and get a subpoena --


WALLACE: A court order for the president to testify. I think that's what happened with Bill Clinton.

LOTTER: Yes, I believe that's what I recall.

WALLACE: So that's not politically tenable for the president to refuse to submit to a subpoena, a court order.

LOTTER: Well, and it's all speculation right now. They're still talking. So if he comes back with a subpoena, that deal is an entirely different level then whether they're having voluntary conversations and back and forth in terms of what may be on the table and what parameters may be set for an interview, those kinds of things.

But, again, the president's personal lawyers and the special counsel have been -- have been cooperating the entire time. They continue to be cooperative. And we'll see whether -- how this goes out.

WALLACE: John, I -- we've got less than a minute left. But what interests me is the fact that whatever -- we'd like to move on with this president. Highs like the tax bill, lows like the comments in the Oval Office this week. But -- but the Russian investigation, both possible collusion, obstruction of justice, continues to cast a shadow over this presidency.

BUSSEY: Yes, it does. And that's what this is about. That's what all of the tangling with lawyers is about. That's what the constant iteration that there's no collusion is about. It's the feeling that this Russia investigation is expanding, is possibly getting closer to the Trump organization or the Trump family or perhaps the president himself. We just don't know yet. There are a lot of outstanding, you know, questions that haven't been resolved. And so it's the big play, it is the big issue along with 2018.

WALLACE: All right, panel. And 2018, that's another big subject too. We'll talk about that.

Thank you. See you next Sunday.

Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." From hard hits on the field, to heavy lifting on The Hill, we'll follow a pro football player's journey to House Speaker Paul Ryan's office.


WALLACE: Eight years ago I was at the headquarters for the Washington Redskins to do a profile of the team's new head coach. One of the players walking off the practice field said he watched this program every week. Who was that political junkie? Here's our "Power Player of the Week."


DERRICK DOCKERY, BUSINESS COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR SPEAKER RYAN: What I do on a daily basis, I basically block and tackle. It's my job to build key alliances to help move the speaker's agenda forward.

WALLACE: Derrick Dockery has been a staffer for House Speaker Paul Ryan for the last two years, working on everything from the tax bill, to school choice. But when he uses football analogies, it's not just talk. Dockery was an offensive lineman in the NFL for ten years.

WALLACE (on camera): Which is tougher, politics or football?

DOCKERY: I was born to play football and now I've been having to transition from the field to The Hill. Obviously it was a tough transition, but with the help of a great team around me, it's easy now.

WALLACE (voice over): Dockery says he didn't care about politics until two of his fellow lineman on the Buffalo Bills pulled him into their discussions.

DOCKERY: Well, every day they would bring in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times. We'd talk taxes, religion, national security.

WALLACE: The turning point.

DOCKERY: One day I looked at my paycheck and I began to think about taxes. I was like, man, I pay a lot of taxes.

WALLACE: During two stents on the Washington Redskins, Dockery made some contacts which led to the next step.

WALLACE (on camera): You're an NFL player. You're making some good money. Why did you decide you wanted to be an intern in the off-season?

DOCKERY: Because I wanted to transition well. I wanted -- I was thinking about what's next.

WALLACE (voice over): He got a job interning on the House Budget Committee, then chaired by Paul Ryan.

WALLACE (on camera): What did your teammates think?

DOCKERY: They loved it. I mean they -- they used to always say, I look at political Dockery. It got so bad I would watch C-SPAN. No, I loved it. I couldn't get enough of it.

So this is pretty cool.

WALLACE (voice over): Dockery took us out of the speakers' balcony, looking down the National Mall, to reflect on his remarkable journey.

DOCKERY: You play at FedEx Field in front of like 80,000, 85,000 screaming fans --

WALLACE (on camera): Right.

DOCKERY: And this is surreal too. You think about just the history.

WALLACE: You know the best part, you don't have to choose, because you've done both.

DOCKERY: I've done both, right. So I get the best of both worlds.

WALLACE (voice over): Which brought up the politics of football.

WALLACE (on camera): How do you feel about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem?

DOCKERY: We need to pay attention to criminal justice and the inequities in our country. We should always strive for a more perfect union. But to me personally I'm not comfortable using the anthem as a protest.

WALLACE: Would you let your son play football?

DOCKERY: I would. If you ask my wife, she'd give you a different answer. But if it was up to me, I would.

WALLACE: So the answer is no.

DOCKERY: The answer is no. Yes.

Tonight is about you having tons of fun.

WALLACE (voice over): Dockery and his wife started a non-profit called Yellow Ribbons United to help veterans and to support the families of the fallen and military who were still serving.

DOCKERY: The reason why we do this is because of my wife's brother, who we lost in Afghanistan, Sergeant David Williams. He really inspired us to give back.

WALLACE: It's all part of a tough transition --

DOCKERY: (INAUDIBLE) how you doing? Good to see you again.

WALLACE: Derrick Dockery has made look easy.

DOCKERY: I enjoy getting up every day and having a purpose. I'm not at home trying to figure out what's next. I enjoy working with people. I enjoy being a part of a team. And that's the main thing, being a part of a team.


WALLACE: Dockery says he has no plans to run for office, but he doesn't rule it out.

To learn more about his charity, Yellow Ribbons United, please go to our website,

And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."


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