This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," February 25, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Good Sunday morning. Thanks for joining us. This week lawmakers return to Washington after the release of the Democrats rebuttal to the Nunes memo alleging surveillance abuses of the FBI and Justice Department. Is the Trump administration preparing the President to testify before Robert Mueller and the debate raging over the Second Amendment and securing our schools following the Parkland massacre? Good morning everyone, thanks so much for joining me this morning. I'm Maria Bartiromo and this is SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES. The Democrats' FISA memo goes public, does it address Republican claims that the FBI would not have even sought a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign aide without that unverified dossier funded by the DNC and Clinton Campaign. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the administration is considering ways the President could testify before Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We have reaction from the White House and Capitol Hill this hour coming up. This words on police officers wanted -- waited outside as a gunman committed mass murder inside a Florida high school. Could that be a game changer for whether teachers should be armed, a closer look at that and a lot more right now as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.
President Trump responding to the release of the Democrats' counter-memo. The President calling it a total political and legal bust. Meanwhile, Democrats are using the document to defend the FBI and the Department of Justice. The rebuttal seeks to undercut claims by Republicans that the two intelligence agencies abused their powers in order to obtain a FISA warrant on a Trump campaign member. It also claims that the DOJ officials narrowly used information from the anti-Trump dossier and officials did disclose details about its author to the FISA court. Joining me right now is the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. Raj, it's good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks for joining us.
RAJ SHAH, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Good morning, Maria. Thanks for having me on.
BARTIROMO: The president was on Fox News last night, in fact calling into Judge Jeanine's program and he said that that memo, the Democratic rebuttal is fraudulent. How is it fraudulent?
SHAH: Well, the Democratic memo was designed to basically undercut the Republican memo, the Nunes memo and it basically failed to do that. The Nunes memo raised two very important points -- it raised a lot of important points, but the two most important were that this FISA warrant would not have been sought had it not been for this Democratic dossier that was funded by the Clinton campaign. The Nunes or sorry the Schiff memo doesn't undercut that. It just -- you know, this was based on testimony by the FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. It doesn't even address that fact. Separately the Nunes memo said that the funding sources for this dossier were not disclosed to the judge. The Democratic memo, again, it cites the FISA application itself and it says that there was somebody who funded it that was designed to discredit the president but it did not state that it was from the DNC and from the Clinton campaign. So on these two very major points about being transparent with the judge and the degree of which they utilize this dossier, this phony dossier, they were not really able to rebut the points made in the Nunes memo. So I think the President is right, this memo is a bust. It doesn't undercut the serious questions raised by the Nunes memo about the FBI and the Department of Justice's conduct last year -- rather, the year before last in this FISA warrant and this investigation altogether.
BARTIROMO: Because we know that they tried to say -- this memo tries to say that oh,, you know, we did tell the FISA Court that the DNC paid but it was a footnote that said this could be politically motivated instead of actually giving the facts and say look, the Democrats paid for this, they went to seek dirt on an opponent, a political opponent, and this dossier was never verified. So what happens now, Raj?
SHAH: Well, I think these are very legitimate questions that have been raised. I think that the FBI and Department of Justice have to answer for them and have to make clear the manner in which this investigation has been handled. Again this is part of an on-going set of issues that we've seen with the FBI and it goes back to frankly the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and it has to do with mishandling of that politicizing that investigation, politicizing this probe. We know that the Department of Justice as an inspector general report we expect to see in the short-term. You know, these issues have been raised, we think they're very legitimate and we think that the FBI Director Chris Wray has begun the process of cleaning up the FBI, but we want to see a clean FBI that's above board that does you know, the thousands of agents within the FBI proud, who risk their lives and who work very hard to defend this country's security and, you know, enforce our laws. So we want to see the FBI cleaned up. We think that this these dueling memos and the transparency about this process is a step in the right direction.
BARTIROMO: You know it's hard not to connect the dots and say oh, the FBI and the DOJ has been so politicized focusing on this witch hunt of where is the Russia collusion between this President and the Russians when we know that there has been zero evidence of it and then see all of the failures.
SHAH: I'm sorry I lost the audio here.
BARTIROMO: Raj, do you get -- do you hear me now? All right, Raj is obviously losing audio. We're going to fix that and get right back to it. In the meantime let's take a quick break because we do have brand new reaction from the Democrats releasing their much-hyped counter-memo the original version blocked by the White House over security concerns but the redaction tied to specifics in the Russia investigation. My next guest, one of the few lawmakers who has seen the intel behind both memos, that is Congressman John Ratcliffe. He will join me live coming up next. Follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiromo, @SundayFutures. Let us know what you'd like to hear from Raj as well as John Ratcliffe as we look ahead right now on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES. Alberto Gonzales coming up live as well. Back in a minute.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We are back now with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. And Raj, we want to get back to our conversation of the FBI and you know it's hard to not connect the dots of all of this focus on this narrative of collusion between this President and the Russians, when in fact we see so many failures on the part of the FBI. I know, the president tweeted about this a couple of weeks ago basically saying, look they're so focused on finding collusion and taking down Trump that we're seeing mistakes elsewhere. Let's take a look at some of the tips and warnings missed and then, of course, that tragedy in Parkland, Florida we are focused on and has opened a whole new debate. We know that the FBI did get tips, the local police did get tips about Nikolas Cruz. We have a timeline showing right now in terms of on February 5th, neighbor's son tells Cruz planned to shoot up the school. Then on September of '17, a blogger warns the FBI about alarming comments from Nikolas Cruz followed by November 29th, the woman who took in Cruz tells 911, he has a lot of weapons. And we continue seeing all of these other callers telling local police that Cruz could be a school shooter in the making. I mean, this is incredible what we are looking at. And that's not just it. I mean, even just a month before we had commentary from people saying that he's going to shoot up the school and he is going to be armed and dangerous. How did this happen?
SHAH: Well, rarely do we see a situation where there is so many red flags and the danger is so clear which makes, you know, the mistakes by the law enforcement agencies, the FBI and local police all the more alarming. And that's why when the President is talking about reforms that we need to see, his focus is not on you know, banning this type of weapon or that type of weapon, this or that firearm but on ensuring that dangerous individuals who pose a threat to public safety like Mr. Cruz in this situation are not given access to any firearms. It's the right approach that's targeted toward individuals who are troubling rather than removing the constitutional rights of all Americans. So we do see a serious break down at the local, state, and federal level. You know it's good that the FBI is you know, being held to account for some of this stuff but it's alarming. It's very alarming. We want to make sure these types of things cannot ever happen again. It's far too important for school safety for our children that we ensure that when there are clearly troubled individuals that have this pattern of behavior and all these red flags that we identify them and take action before a horrible incident like this.
BARTIROMO: What's the answer though? What does the President want to see here then?
SHAH: Well the President has been you know, talking to teachers, talking to family members, talking to students, also talking to stakeholders and, you know, he wants a conservative approach that goes after this at several levels. We want to improve the background check system and a focus on mental health. He also may want to raise the age for purchasing semiautomatic weapons. He's looking at ways to harden schools and ensure that teachers who are trained can carry concealed weapons and deter these types of incidents. So he's looking at several options and ways to -- again, the focus is on hardening our protection so that way we're frankly playing offense and not just defense with these types of situations but also making sure that when you have troubled individuals, we strip their access to all weapons rather than taking all weapons from all individuals.
BARTIROMO: All right. You know what, we're going to leave it there because we're going to talk with John Ratcliffe about this as well. The White House legal team apparently considering ways the President could testify before Robert Mueller. Is this going to happen?
SHAH: Well, the Special Counsel has been in touch with the President's personal attorneys and legal team. You know we're going to allow them to carry on that conversation as the White House and as an administration, we've been fully cooperative with the Special Counsel because as the President stated many times, there's no collusion, there's no obstruction, there will be no findings of wrongdoing. And we look forward to the Special Counsel finishing their process and exonerating the president.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there. Raj, thanks very much for your insight this morning. We will see you soon, sir.
SHAH: Thanks so much.
BARTIROMO: Raj Shah joining us this morning at the White House. The House Intelligence Committee, of course, releasing a redacted memo yesterday by the Democrats after President Trump blocked its release two weeks ago over security concerns there were methods and sources in there. In this memo, the committee's top Democrat Adam Schiff refutes claim in the Devin Nunes memo. He states that the FBI and Justice Department did not abuse their surveillance powers when they sought a FISA warrant, but the rebuttal leaves out key facts about the FISA Russia investigation, how it came to the decision to investigate former Trump campaign officials. I want to bring in Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe right now, one of only three lawmakers who has seen the intel behind both memo. He sits on both the House Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committee and is a former Federal Prosecutor. Good to see you, Congressman. Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, R-TEXAS, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Hi, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Your most important takeaway from this Democratic memo.
RATCLIFFE: The most important takeaway is on page five of the Democratic memo where they admit that although Hillary Clinton and the DNC were not disclosed to the FISA Court, they argue that the court was provided with sufficient information from which to understand the political context of Steele's dossier. The problem with that is they're saying the court could have figured it out and that's not the standard. The court, the FISA Court must be told. They must be told clearly, expressly, unequivocally and fully and in this case they clearly were not told about Hillary Clinton and the DNC, about Steele hating Trump and being desperate from keeping him to becoming president or his relationship with Bruce Ohr and his wife at the Department of Justice or the fact that Steele was the source of the Michael Isikoff Yahoo article. All of those things should have been disclosed expressly to the FISA Court and warrant and the democratic memo acknowledges that.
BARTIROMO: Yes, so they're trying --
RATCLIFFE: That's the primary takeaway.
BARTIROMO: That's the primary takeaway because they're trying to say, oh, it was in a footnote that maybe it was politically motivated but you just stated it right out as your colleague Devin Nunes did this weekend at CPAC. Here's what Congressman Nunes said on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF., CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: One of the things in the Democratic memo that they're all hot to talk about is that in a footnote before the FISA Court, they had put in a very convoluted complicated answer for something that was, you know, it's buried at the end, OK, of the -- of the application about that this was politically motivated. Wouldn't have been a lot easier just to say hey, Mr. Judge, we want to let you know that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party paid a lawyer who hired a firm who hired a foreign agent to go to the Russians and get dirt on Mr. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARTIROMO: So there you go. I mean, they investigated and wiretapped somebody because they could. They saw an opening isn't that right Congressman?
RATCLIFFE: It is, and as Devin said, you know, it would have been easier but what he didn't say was it was also required. Again, the FISA Court is an ex-parte proceeding where the other side is not represented so the government has the duty for full disclosure. Maria as federal prosecutors, we have that obligation in every criminal case to give to the other side even when they represented the worse parts of the case, all of the exculpatory evidence. And that's where a party is represented. Imagine what the burden is when they're not represented and that's where we get into what should have been expressly told to the court that very clearly wasn't. The other point I think that is worth emphasizing here is that Adam Schiff goes at length to talk about the fact that Republicans criticized FBI agent Peter Strzok and DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr and that they're unfairly maligned in this process. You know who doesn't think Ohr and Strzok did a good job? The FBI and the Department of Justice. Unless of course, you believe that FBI agent Peter Strzok asked to go from counterintelligence agent to human resources clerk or you believe that Bruce Ohr asked to be demoted not once but twice in a two-week period. The FBI knows and Department of Justice knows they have a problem with the conduct of those individuals.
BARTIROMO: And that's why we've seen what, about ten people either reassigned or fired from the Department of Justice or the FBI in the last six months. I mean, obviously just reassigning people for personal reasons doesn't tell the story but there are people who seem to be losing their position as a result, but people want to know how will justice be served, Congressman. I mean there's clearly nothing new here and the Democrats have, well they have done what they wanted to do and that is muddy the water. So tell us, where is the justice?
RATCLIFFE: Well, I think that we're putting a spotlight and bringing attention on processes here that the public hasn't seen before. And I will say in the long term, I think dueling memos from Republicans and Democrats about national security issues is not healthy for the, you know, national security debate. But Maria, we ought to be able to as members of Congress agree on what is an abuse of the FISA process and one of the most troubling takeaways here is that you have members of the House Intelligence Committee that apparently when presented with clear evidence of what is a FISA abuse don't recognize it. And so that's one of the focuses and takeaways here that I think we need to continue to explore.
BARTIROMO: Yes, there are way too much politicization going on in these important agencies. We're going to get the Inspector General report in March, what are you expecting from that report? Because if it weren't for the I.G., we would not have known about all of the incredible bias at the top of the FBI.
RATCLIFFE: I do expect that to be out in about a month and what I expect it to say is that when Adam Schiff says that the FBI and the Department of Justice did everything right in this process, that the Inspector General will disagree with that. I think that the Inspector General will find significant departures of policies and procedures and protocols and precedents at the FBI and the Department of Justice and that they're significant. So, you know, we'll see. It will be about a month before we get that, but that's what I fully expect because again, as a former Federal Prosecutor, Maria, I see one unprecedented coincidence after another in these cases of things that I've never seen before in my time as a federal prosecutor dealing with national security issues.
BARTIROMO: So you think people will be held accountable then?
RATCLIFFE: I do. And I think that that's part of having this discussion in the public view right now is ultimately healthy so we can make the reforms that are necessary to some of these processes.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, thanks so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.
RATCLIFFE: You bet.
BARTIROMO: Be sure to catch MORNINGS WITH MARIA on the Fox Business Network tomorrow. I will be live coming from Washington tomorrow with two exclusive interviews with the Chairman of the House Intel Committee Devin Nunes, my special guest tomorrow. I'll also be speaking with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy tomorrow. Big program out of Washington for mornings with Maria on the Fox Business Network. Please join me tomorrow 6:00-9:00 a.m. Eastern. But first, when we come right back, we're talking with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his thoughts on the newly released FISA rebuttal memo. We're looking ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES right now. Back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. More reaction this morning to the rebuttal FISA memo released by the Democrats. Alberto Gonzales is a former U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, he's also Dean of Belmont University College of Law and author of the autobiography True Faith and Allegiance and he joins me right now. Judge, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.
ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Good morning, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Your reaction to the rebuttal memo.
GONZALES: Well it's hard to really -- to know what's accurate and what's not accurate. Let me just say this. I think I am like a lot of the American public somewhat disgusted about everything going on in Washington. I mean, you've got -- you've got these dueling memos about classified information. If you really cannot read the classified application and you cannot read the classified source materials, it's hard to know what is truthful, and it's just, for me it's very disappointing and very disturbing about what's going on with respect to our intelligence community, our intelligence activities in Washington D.C. and you know, we really need to get this straightened out because and I think it does us no good and I think there's a great deal of disappointment and discouragement within the Department of Justice. Clearly, some people did some things at the level that should not have been done and they should be held accountable. But every time you criticize the Department of Justice, the FBI even if you're talking about the leadership, it does great damage to the morale of the rank in file and that really, really, disappoints me.
BARTIROMO: Yes, I think you make a really important point because people are not sure there's a lot of noise out there. So let me ask you a sort of a question from 30,000 feet because I had Jeff Sessions on, current Attorney General on this program last week and I asked him, you know, why did you recuse yourself of all of these issues in the first place? Here's what he said, I want to get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I believe I did the right thing, the only thing I could do. I participated in this campaign and as such under explicit regulations of the Department of Justice on no one can participate in the investigation of a campaign in which they were an active participant. You can't ask other members of the department to follow the law and follow the rules if the Attorney General himself refuses to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARTIROMO: I mean, your honor, at this point, we know that the Clinton email investigation was handled with kid gloves. We know they wrote an exoneration letter before they actually interviewed her. We also know that there was all this bias at the top of the FBI. Do you think Jeff Sessions should have recused himself of all things Russia?
GONZALES: Absolutely. I think Jeff Sessions did the absolute right thing. And the fact that the Democrats, the Obama administration, and Clinton folks may have done something improper, it doesn't mean that we should do so. Listen, Jeff Sessions was advised by career individuals that the right thing to do was recuse himself. He followed that advice. If he had not followed that advice, he would have lost all credibility within the building. So yes, I believe Jeff Sessions did the right thing and I'm still confident in the department, still confident at the end of the day we're going to get to the bottom of what actually happened here.
BARTIROMO: You know, it's interesting when you have a special counsel, you have to scratch your head and said, oh, well, you have to get somebody from the outside to investigate things, what about the 93 U.S. attorneys that work you know, within the system? What about the 10,000 lawyers who perhaps could do this in terms of the special counsel? You do believe then that we will see justice. I mean, there are a lot of open investigations right now that people are wondering where is the accountability? Where is justice being served?
GONZALES: Well, there's no question. Listen, I think when Bob Mueller was appointed, I think it's fair to say there was virtually universal agreement that he was the right person based upon his experience, based upon his judgment and reputation and there's a lot of work that's on-going within the Department of Justice. This notion that the department could not investigate the Florida shootings and conduct this investigation into Russian meddling is ridiculous. You know, the Special Counsel was appointed to focus solely on that and the rest of the FBI is focusing on the other issues, the other challenges to the American public today.
BARTIROMO: But does it hamper him to actually, you know, look at overseeing the FBI given that he comes from the FBI, given his relationship with Jim Comey?
GONZALES: It is something to be concerned about and I'm hopeful that Bob will realize that there is proceed bias with respect to his relationship with Jim Comey, there is perceived bias with respect to his previous experience at the FBI and that at the end of the day he will do the right thing and follow the evidence and reach the conclusion that is perfectly appropriate based upon that evidence.
BARTIROMO: You know, it's incredible how many leaks there have been, sir. I want you to hear Jeff Sessions one more time from my interview last week tell us how many open investigations there are right now in the Justice Department where we are investigating leaks of classified data. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: There are -- last two years before I became attorney general, there are each year there was three open investigations of classified leaks. Now we have 27 and we're going after this aggressively. I have directed it personally. Some of the matters involve this matter and some of it is a matter that I'm not recused on and we are pursuing aggressively
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARTIROMO: So much politicization going on in these agencies, sir your reaction to that?
GONZALES: Well, I think that the fact that the numbers are so different may reflect the fact that there was less of an emphasis or focus on going after leaking in the previous administration. I believe it's very, very important. We have laws on the book that criminalize leaking classified information. It is a job of the Department of Justice led by the Attorney General to prosecute those federal laws and so I think it -- I fully support Jeff Sessions' efforts to go after the leakers. We're talking about information that's important to national security our country, those -- that information needs to be protected.
BARTIROMO: We're talking about current sitting members of Congress, Congressman Adam Schiff, people talk about him as far as going into meetings, having confidential classified meetings leaving the room and calling up reporters and leaking it
GONZALES: Well and that shouldn't happen. And there are procedures within the Congress that deal with members who are not doing what they should be doing but you're absolutely right. It is amazing how politicized all of this has gotten in Washington and as I said at the outset, this I believe jeopardizes the national security of our country.
BARTIROMO: Sir, I want you to stick around. I want to ask you whether you believe that the country's second amendment rights are being threatened. Stay with us. We're going to talk about that and whether or not the Second Amendment is under threat when we come right back. Then North Korea signaling it's willing to talk to the United States. Could new pressure from the Trump administration be to reason? All that as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES after this short break. Stay with us for more Alberto Gonzales.
BARTIROMO: And we're back with Judge Alberto Gonzales. And sir, I want to ask you about Sanctuary Cities because the President in a conversation this week basically said look, California wants to be a sanctuary place, well, maybe I should pull my ICE managers out of there border control. Listen to what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Frankly it's a disgrace the Sanctuary City situation, the protection of these horrible criminals. You know because you're working on it and the protection of these horrible criminals in California and other places but in California that if we ever pulled our ICE out and we ever said hey, let California alone with them figure it out for themselves, in two months they'd be begging for us to come back. They would be begging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARTIROMO: Judge, what's your take on this?
GONZALES: Well, I don't think it's ever going to happen because of course if you pull out that just going to increases the national security threat or danger to our country not to mention the State of California. I quite frankly am of the position that -- listen, I have no problem with churches granting sanctuary but I think when you have state governments granting sanctuary in violation of federal law, to me that's problematic and I think that utilize whatever pressure you can at the federal level to ensure cooperation and compliance at the state level is something that I think is worth exploring.
BARTIROMO: And by the way, we're talking about individuals who are not only illegals in this country but they're committing crimes.
GONZALES: Well that's of course very true. It's something that obviously the American people are tired of seeing that and it's something we need to get a handle on.
BARTIROMO: Yes, I mean, it's not just that this President is saying oh, we don't want illegals and you better tell us who's illegal but he's saying we want to know when an illegal commits a crime so I have a hard time understanding how anybody is against that. But again, California wants to be sanctuary and they don't want the federal government in their business I guess.
GONZALES: Well, you know, of course, we live in a country where the notion was that most of the power of the government was supposed to reside in the states. And so, they're supposed to be laboratories -- you know, avenues of laboratories of innovation and trying out new ideas and so we'll see how it goes but again, I support what the President is trying to do here.
BARTIROMO: We have seen too many cases of shootings at schools this year and over the last year, sir, and as a result, the conversation of gun control and the Second Amendment continues in the front and center for all of us. Your take on whether or not the Second Amendment is under attack and could be threatened?
GONZALES: You know, I know this is a very heated political emotional issue and obviously emotions are still raw from the shootings in Florida. Many of the measures that I've heard discussed I do not believe threaten the Second Amendment. We've had background check, we know that they're constitutional I think increasing them to include additional transactions would not threaten the Second Amendment. I think an assault weapons ban, I'm not talking about all semiautomatic weapons but an assault weapons ban, we've had it before and it expired, that I don't believe threatens the Second Amendment. It's not unconstitutional. I think pursuing more responsible gun ownership and looking at mental health records making sure that our database includes more mental health cases where appropriate I don't believe threatens the Second Amendment. So there are many things being discussed today that I don't think raise a constitutional issue. Now, obviously, the question is whether or not do we have the political will to get something passed to try to make our schools a little bit more safer.
BARTIROMO: Well, and we should also point out that we need to be following the rules that are already on the books given the fact that we're seeing --
GONZALES: No question about it. And we need to follow-up on tips. Obviously, tremendous -- there are a number of warning signs with respect to Mr. Cruz in Florida and the system didn't work the way. It should work and we need to find out why and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again.
BARTIROMO: Yes, all right. Sir, it's good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks so much.
GONZALES: Thank you for having me.
BARTIROMO: Former A.G. Alberto Gonzales. Meanwhile, North Korea has left the door open for diplomacy with Washington. An envoy for Pyongyang is saying that his country is willing to hold open talks with the United States. The announcement coming today as that official shared a VIP box with first daughter Ivanka Trump at the closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Now, they did not appear to interact but it comes as the Trump administration levels new sanctions against the North for its nuclear program. Joining me right now is Gordon Chang, expert on that part of the country, Author of Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes On the World. Good to see you, Gordon. Thanks so much for joining us.
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN, NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Your take on this on the most recent provocation and admission from the North saying yes, we will talk to the United States.
CHANG: Well, I think that North Korea wants to talk because sanctions, U.N. sanctions, and Trump administration sanctions are starting to bite and we're seeing even new evidence of this and that is, for instance, some people are saying that the North's foreign currency reserves could run out by October and office number 39 which is the North Korean slush fund is running low of money. So this is an indication that the North wants relief from sanctions and thinks that by talking to South Korea and the United States it can get it. I don't think the Trump administration is going to be fooled by the North Koreans this time.
BARTIROMO: You know, some people say look, this is a killer. This is a person who doesn't care about human rights. We're talking about Kim Jong Un and his country. Why does he care about sanctions? So do sanctions really work?
CHANG: Well sanctions will work -- I mean, it depends on how much political will the administration has. It has a program which is instituted from the beginning of its time in office of really trying to come up with the money because if you don't have money, Kim Jong Un can't launch missiles, he can't detonate nukes and he can't get engaged in gift politics which is the giving Mercedes and Rolexes to senior regime figures to buy their loyalty. That really then goes to the whole stability of the regime. So sanctions are beginning to work but we need to do a lot more because we have yet to go after for instance the big power sponsors of North Korea, Russia, and China. And until we do that we're not going to be able to cut off all the money going into Pyongyang.
BARTIROMO: Is that what you want to see from the Trump administration next? How has this Trump approach been toward the North?
CHANG: Well it's been good in a sense that the underlying policy is to cut off the money. They signal to the Chinese and to the Russians that they got to get out of the sanctions-busting business. But you know, we've seen Chinese ships on the ship-to-ship transfers in the last couple of days, that's a violation of last September U.N. sanctions and there's been consistently North Korean ships in Chinese ports in the last few months. As President Trump said in that famous tweet, we've caught the Chinese red handed and now we've got to actually impose some cost to stop the Chinese from really some very destructive conduct in supporting the North.
BARTIROMO: Do you think China has shown a willingness to be on the side of the U.S.? I mean China, I think, has shown both ways, right, because China doesn't want disruption right outside of its doorstep and it doesn't want tons of refugees coming into China.
CHANG: Well, you know, on the refugees, if there's a real collapse of the North Korean regime, those refugees are going to move south through the demilitarize zone because we demined about three corridors through the zone and they would rather be with other Koreans than with the Chinese who don't like them. You know, they have two millennia of conflict so they're going to move south. But you know, with regard to China, they are sort of moving in the right direction but that's only because Trump has pushed them. Now, Trump has to I think go even further in order to get the Chinese to do what we really want which is to cut off that money flow.
BARTIROMO: All right. We'll be watching that. Gordon, it's great to see you. Thanks so much.
CHANG: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: We appreciate it very much, Gordon Chang weighing in there. New trade talks for NAFTA begin this week and we want to turn back to the newly declassified democratic memo. It counters claims from Republicans in the Nunes memo alleging surveillance abuse at the FBI and the DOJ. Our panel is up next with a lot on their plate as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES. Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We've been talking this morning about the release of the newly-redacted Democratic memo in a rebuttal to the GOP memo. President Trump calling it "a political and legal bust." We'll get reaction now from our panel. Ed Rollins is a former Campaign manager for Reagan-Bush 84 and a Fox News Contributor, Mary Kissel with us this morning, an Editorial Board Member at the Wall Street Journal and a Fox News Contributor. It's good to see you both.
ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Your reaction to the memo?
ROLLINS: It's totally irrelevant. I think Congressman Ratcliffe pointed out very carefully that they did not say this was a Democrat memo. They basically (INAUDIBLE) what have you and I think at the end of the day, Carter Page was a minor player, if they had him under investigation and someone should have said to the Trump campaign, you know, this guy is -- we're watching him.
BARTIROMO: You mean the FBI didn't tell the FISA Court this is a democratic dossier?
ROLLINS: They didn't. That's the whole issue. And however you want to hide it, and they hid it well by all of the redacting, this was something paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to hurt Trump and that's --
BARTIROMO: Yes, bottom line, they tried to muddy the waters a lot, Mary Kissel.
MARY KISSEL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, this was an exercise and obfuscation but Maria, I think we should give credit to Devin Nunes and to the President for getting this memo out because the American people deserve to know exactly what happened in our law enforcement agencies, agencies which played, let's be honest a very big part in the last presidential election. The GOP memo made clear that the FISA Court was misled in several ways when the request was made to surveil a U.S. citizen. The Democratic memo does not in any way challenge those facts. It doesn't challenge the fact that the FISA Court was not told of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign funding of the Steele dossier. It doesn't challenge the fact that they used a Yahoo! News story that was fed by Christopher Steele, it also does not challenge the fact that Bruce Ohr's wife who worked for Fusion GPS, the court was not informed of that nor was Congress by the way. So whereas the GOP memo was an exercise in clarification, the Democratic memo was an exercise in obfuscation. I say let's see all of the documents including that court application if we can do that without endangering sources.
BARTIROMO: By the way, one more thing. They did it four times.
BARTIROMO: So, let's not forget that they actually had to renew that FISA warrant to actually wiretap. So for a year, they were overseeing and wiretapping Trump aide and they used the dossier over and over again to renew warrant.
ROLLINS: It's also very important again, Carter Page was a minor, minor player, a minor playing in the town.
BARTIROMO: But that's all they could get.
ROLLINS: He's a very pro-Russian guy. He wanted to business, a one-man operation. He's wanted to do business. He's like a lot of these people that get in on a campaign on the fringe, the foreign establishment of the Republican Party did not support Trump so this kind of minor players all snuck in there. They were not significant. He never had any meetings with Trump. He never basically did anything in the campaign but cause a great disturbance.
KISSEL: But the Democratic argument about Carter Page makes no sense at all because on the one hand, they say, well, he was a major figure and the Democratic memo suggests we had ample reason to surveil Carter Page. But on the other hand, you had Andrew McCabe telling Congress we couldn't have submitted this application without the Steele dossier. Meaning that we needed evidence, significant evidence that we didn't have to warrant surveilling this American citizen
BARTIROMO: Right and by the way, you have to remember that already ten people have been reassigned or fired at the FBI or the Department of Justice. That's not a coincidence.
ROLLINS: They thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the president. They were doing everything they could to basically maintain their roles and future roles at the FBI and Justice Department, period.
BARTIROMO: Will there be accountability though? I mean, that's what everybody wants to know because they did a very good job of muddying the waters and people are not sure where this leads next. Do you think we're going to see indictments? Do you think we're going to see people actually go to jail and get indicted as a result of trying to abuse their powerful position?
ROLLINS: The more important thing is what Sessions said on your show last week. These felonious leaks and that's what the investigation -- that is the people that basically if they go to jail it's the only way they're going to go to jail.
BARTIROMO: 27 opened classified leaks investigation.
ROLLINS: When you closing some of those and started indicting some people.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will take a quick break and then when we come back President Trump fired up the crowd this weekend the Annual Conservative Political Conference CPAC wrapped up last night with a traditional straw poll. Who was the big winner? We will get our panel's reaction to that as we look ahead next. Back in a minute.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. President Trump firing up the crowd at CPAC this weekend. We're back with our panel Ed Rollins and Mary Kissel. They were on fire at CPAC.
ROLLINS: Well, first of all, the conservative CPAC is the most -- the coalition of most conservative elements of the party. A year ago, it was kind of a lukewarm. When we came there, they went sure whether he can be conservative. He now owns this party, he now owns the conservative movement. In my lifetime there have been two other men who ever controlled the conservative party, Barry Goldwater in 1964, he didn't get successful, Ronald Reagan in 1976. This is the second president who basically controls not just the party but the conservative movement and -- because they love what he's done.
BARTIROMO: That's incredible. The Straw Poll, Mary, 93 percent of the people in the Straw Poll said we approve of what President Trump was doing.
KISSEL: Yes, which tells me how meaningful that Straw Poll actually is. I took a look at the RealClearPolitics average, Maria, and he still has over 50 percent disapproval ratings, 538 and another poll average shows the same kind of numbers. So to me, the big question is not whether President Trump's economic record is going to stand up to scrutiny but whether his popularity ratings are going to pull him down despite that excellent economic --
ROLLINS: He's as popular as Reagan was at this point in time and as popular as Obama was. At the end of the day, his accomplishments, his tax bill will make him more popular as time goes on.
BARTIROMO: Well, it's interesting --
ROLLINS: He's at50 percent in the -- there's only one poll that basically is the Daily Poll now is at 50 percent approval rating this week which is always a little higher for Republicans but still moving in the right direction.
BARTIROMO: Its gone up 50 percent right now according to that poll. But Mary, can he be a very successful President and also be a president who creates debate?
KISSEL: In other words, can he be our most successful president in the modern era and also our most unpopular and I think the answer is probably yes, Maria. What we learn from CPAC is that look, Trump is Trump. If we haven't figured this out by now, you're never going to figure it out. He's not going to change this tone, he's not going to change his style. He's going to stick with what got him elected to the presidency. We found out in some of these interim races in Virginia and elsewhere that that is really fired up the Democratic base. Look at what happened in Virginia for instance.
KISSEL: So the gamble that he takes is that look, the record is going to stand by itself and my people are going to come out to vote. Who knows how that's going to turn out? I have to say, Ed can cite polls, I can cite polls but I frankly don't have a lot of confidence in them given what they did in the last election.
BARTIROMO: Going into the midterms, he's gotten stronger.
ROLLINS: He's gotten stronger. And at the end of the day, people have to run on his record and if they run on his record and basically he goes out and campaigns aggressively, you'll get a lot of his voters back out there. That's where it will make a difference. I think the reality here is again it's his party at this point in time, no one can stand up to him and if you do like John McCain did and others, you're going to get slapped back as he did the other day and his friends get rewarded.
BARTIROMO: Ed Rollins, Mary Kissel, good to see you both. Thanks so much for being here. That will do it for us at SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES, I'm Maria Bartiromo. Join me tomorrow live from Washington "MORNINGS WITH MARIA" at the Fox Business Network 6:00-9:00. Stay with us right here.
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