Can the bipartisan congressional panel strike a border security deal before the deadline?

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," February 3, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.

The governor of Virginia refuses to step down over a racist picture despite of barrage of calls from fellow Democrats for his resignation.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM, D-VA: I am not either of the people in that photo. And I'm asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness.

WALLACE: From the firestorm over the offensive yearbook photo to the outrage over Northam's comments about late-term abortion.

NORTHAM: The infant would be delivered and then the discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother.

WALLACE: This hour, we'll discuss how the events have brought the issues of race and abortion to the forefront of the 2020 campaign.

Then, President Trump prepares to address the State of the Union amid a fight over the border wall that's growing even more bitter.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself because she's hurting a lot of people.

WALLACE: Is there any chance for a compromise?

We'll ask two members of the bipartisan conference committee trying to find one -- Republican Senator John Hoeven and Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.

Plus, the Trump administration pulls the plug on an arms control treaty with Russia signed by Ronald Reagan.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia has jeopardized the United States security interest and we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.

WALLACE: We will discuss the threat of a new arms raised and the president's split from his own intelligence chiefs with Ron Johnson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, all right now on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is defying calls for his resignation, from the Democratic Party in his own state and almost all the leading contenders for his party's 2020 presidential nomination. Northam says he is not one of the two people in a clearly racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook. And he's appealing to Virginia voters to give them some time to earn back their trust.

We begin our coverage with the latest from Garrett Tenney live outside the governor's mansion in Richmond -- Garrett.

GARRETT TENNEY, CORRESPONDENT: Chris, in less than 24 hours, Governor Ralph Northam went from "I'm sorry" to "it wasn't me". And his explanation has done very little to quell the calls for his resignation.


NORTHAM: I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm that my behavior caused then and today.

TENNEY: Clearly racist and offensive. On Friday, that's how Governor Northam described this picture in his 1984 medical school yearbook which shows one man wearing black face and another in a KKK costume.

On Saturday, Northam said he never believed it was him in the picture and only apologized because people were upset.

NORTHAM: Last night I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photograph in detail. It is definitely not me. I can tell by looking at it.

TENNEY: Northam admitted he did wear black face for a dance competition that same year, dressing up like Michael Jackson.

He's facing a growing wave of calls from across the political spectrum for him to resign, including these from the campaign trail.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.: He should resign. I saw the photo after I saw you guys last night. So disturbing, so racist.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN, D-OH: I have called for him to resign, he should.

TENNEY: If Northam were to resign, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax will become the second African-American governor of the commonwealth. In a statement, he said, I cannot condone the actions from his past that at the very least suggest a comfort with Virginia's darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping and intimidation.


TENNEY: Governor Northam said he is launching an investigation to determine who the two men in the photo are, and to prove to the public that he isn't one of them, using facial recognition technology -- Chris.

WALLACE: Garrett Tenney, reporting from Richmond -- Garrett, thanks for that.

We want to discuss this now with our Sunday group who represent a range of political opinions. Former Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, Liz Marlantes, politics editor of the "Christian Science Monitor", and Jonah Goldberg of "The National Review".

Well, Mo, let me start with you because you have a long experience in Virginia Democratic politics.

Here is Governor Northam yesterday asking Virginia voters for more time.


NORTHAM: Right now, I am simply asking for the opportunity to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person I was is not the man I am today. I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness.


WALLACE: Mo, do you think the governor can survive this scandal? Do you think he should survive the scandal?

MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS & PUBLIC SERVICE: It's hard to see how. As you reference, I've worked in Virginia Democratic politics for a long time, eight statewide campaigns over a dozen-year period, and one thing that's very clear in Virginia, in Virginia today, is that issues of race remain complicated, they remain raw, they remain emotional for so many people.

To have those issues and those emotions spill over into the governor's office of what was once the capital of the Confederacy, something is hard to come back from. I think the governor has mishandled this every single step of the way. I don't know how you can on one night admit that you are in the photo and the next day come back and say I only said that because I didn't look at it. That at least suggests to me that for a moment he thought it was possible that it might have been him. That in and of itself is concerning to me.

And so, I think you have seen -- and I will say this, as difficult a day as this is in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationally, I do feel a little optimism come from it because we have seen a unanimity. We have seen people from across the political spectrum come together and say this kind of behavior is not acceptable, so in a few united moments we have had as a nation recently.

I wish we could see that same feeling when it's a Steve King or somebody else, but I do think we are seeing people say, let us turn the corner on this and move forward.

WALLACE: We ask you for questions for the panel. And on the Northam issue, we got this tweet from Greg.

Can you describe the compounded media hysteria, if this was a conservative governor who supported Donald J. Trump?

Congressman Chaffetz, how do you answer Greg? And I have to say, in all fairness, this story since it broke has been the lead on almost every newscast and as we pointed out, almost every potential contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination has condemned Northam and has called for him to resign.

JASON CHAFFETZ, CONTRIBUTOR: The reaction has been severe and it has been pervasive. It's hard to believe that it could be any worse but even then I do believe it would be even exponentially worse for somebody who supported Donald J. Trump.

But at the same time, every single Democrat that I've heard has come out and said that he needs to step down, he shouldn't be in place. Probably easier for Republicans to say that but I'm glad and proud actually that the Democrats are calling out one of their own.

And at this point, I think the governor is being just wholly selfish. He can't govern at this point. He's going to be terribly ineffective. It sounds like they have a decent, competent person to step in behind him and he should step down immediately.

WALLACE: Jonah, I'm going to ask the question which may be hopelessly out of date and may seem hopelessly out of touch to some people. But as hateful as that photograph from 1984 is, and there's no question it is hateful, it was 35 years ago and this governor does have a pretty good record of reaching out to African-Americans. He has been a member of an African-American church.

It is a just possible in the year 2019 to even consider whether you should judge a person's whole life of work against one terrible mistake?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: In principle, I absolutely think you should be able to apologize sincerely for this and maybe part of the problem is that a sincere apology would come with a resignation, not with what we've seen. But we are at a moment where we are talking about giving felons second chances because of mistakes they've made when they killed people or murdered people or raped people.

Surely, if this was a stand-alone thing that he did in his past and the contrition was sincere, I think we should be able -- people should get a shot at redemption or at least have their apologies heard. The problem is they've been so bad. This was such a bad handling of this thing where even now he's begging for forgiveness while denying it was him and promising a search for the real racists.

It is a bizarrely, convoluted, embarrassing handling of something and it just -- it chums the water in ways that makes it impossible for a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt.

WALLACE: I promise, Liz, I'm going to bring you in a minute. But what about that, Mo? I mean, what about the argument?

Let's say it even was his picture in 1984 in the medical school yearbook. It's a terrible mistake. It's hateful. It's unacceptable.

But should we all be judged by the worst thing we ever did?

ELLEITHEE: Of course -- I think he has -- I've struggled with this too. He has a long distinguished record as a pediatrician and as a veteran and as an elected official, and has done so much good for the people of Virginia.

WALLACE: And has reached out to the African-American --

ELLEITHEE: He's reached out to the African-American community in very real ways so the notion that you have this one moment from your past to find and invalidate everything else doesn't sit well with me. But I'm with Jonah on this one in that if he had come out on day one and said in a very real way that it was either -- that it was him and here's how I'm going to regain your trust, I think people would listen to him.

To come out yesterday then and do the about-face --

WALLACE: Yes, but wait, wait, to be fair, long before the news conference, and I certainly agree it was a weird news conference --


WALLACE: -- there were people calling for his resignation. Everybody was calling for his resignation, including every Democratic potential contender.

ELLEITHEE: You know, I actually give a lot of credit to the state's two senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, who both former governors who condemned the photo immediately and said were going to give the government a chance to speak directly to the people of Virginia, let him explain to them and do the right thing.

And after that, after yesterday, they said, you know what, he can't do it.

WALLACE: OK, Liz, I want to bring you and if I want to broaden this because I want to talk about a somewhat different issue, which was that before the story broke, the big story involving Democrats this last week was that they were being attacked by Republicans as dangerous, out of touch leftist radicals in Virginia of all places. A Democratic lawmaker was pushing a bill that would make it easier to get late term abortions.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where it's obvious that a woman is about to give birth. She has physical signs that she is about to give birth. Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so certified?

KATHY TRAN, D-VIRGINIA STATE DELEGATE: My bill would allow that, yes.


WALLACE: Interestingly enough, Governor Northam supported that bill, which would make it easier to get late-term abortions, which was defeated in the statehouse and then, there was Senator Kamala Harris who supported Medicare for all, even saying, well, maybe we don't need private insurance anymore. Take a look at this.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-CALIF.: Who of us has not had that situation where you've got to wait for approval and the doctor says, well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this? Let's eliminate all of that, let's move on.


WALLACE: And some Democrats are making dramatic new calls for stiff new increases in taxes on the very wealthy.

The question is, is there a vulnerability for Democrats here that they may be going too far to the left and that Republicans will be able to paint them as radical or even socialist?

LIZ MARLANTES, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Absolutely. I think, you know, if you look at the field of 2020 candidates right now, there's a huge opening for moderate that isn't being filled at the moment, unless, I don't know, may be Joe Biden ends up getting in or something.

But yes, I think the field is going to the left and what we saw this week with Howard Schultz talking about possibly running as a third party, all of that I think points to the fact that there is right now a vacuum in the field for moderate candidates. However, I was going to say, back to the Northam thing, even if he had handled it correctly from the beginning, I think Democrats would have been calling for him to be out of there right away, because the one thing is they are gearing up for 2020, they do not want to be seen as in any way hypocritical on issues of race or sex. They just don't end -- I think he would've been done even if he'd handled it perfectly.

GOLDBERG: Can I add a quick point on that?

The question from the viewer about media coverage, what if the blackface episode had never happened and it had been a pro-life right wing conservative governor who took an equally extreme position from the right on abortion, how would the media coverage be different?

The media coverage of this governor basically rhetorically endorsing infanticide in the eyes of millions of Americans was treated as a strange obsession by the mainstream media. If a right-wing governor said, well, zero tolerance for any abortion, we're going to put the doctors in jail, we're going to put the mom in jail, it would be a firestorm of media coverage, and that shows the double standard and also how race plays so much differently than some of these other sort of Christian pro-life culture war issues.

WALLACE: Panel, thank you all. I don't usually lead with the panel. I'm glad we did. See you all a little later.

Up next, President Trump says there's a good chance he will declare a national emergency to build his border wall if a bipartisan congressional panel can't hammer out a deal. Two members of that committee join us, next.


WALLACE: A Congressional Conference Committee has just 12 more days to strike a deal on border security that President Trump will sign before there's another government shutdown.

Joining me now, two members of that committee: from Texas, Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, whose district sits right on the border with Mexico and he says he opposes any money for a new barrier, and here in Washington, Republican Senator John Hoeven. He says there has to be money for a wall.

And, gentlemen, welcome to both of you to "Fox News Sunday".

SEN. JOHN HOEVEN, R-N.D.: Thanks, Chris.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR, D-TX: Thank you so much.

WALLACE: President Trump has been very pessimistic about the prospects that your committee is going to be able to come up with a compromising -- compromise, including funding for the wall. And here he is on Thursday.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't expect much coming out of the committee because I keep hearing the words that we'll give you what you want but we're not going to give you a wall. And the problem is, if they don't give us a wall, it doesn't work. Without a wall, it doesn't work.


WALLACE: Senator Hoeven, is this as the president has been saying this week, a waste of time? What do you think are the prospects, the chances that you can come up with a deal, he only got 12 days left, less than two weeks to give the president something he can sign?

HOEVEN: Well, I think the president is trying to push the process along and, you know, you need to. I mean, we only have until February 15th. I think we can get to a solution but it does need to include barrier funding. It needs to include personnel, technology and funding for a border barrier.

WALLACE: Congressman Cuellar, here is Speaker Pelosi this week.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation.


WALLACE: Congressman, is this a semantic game they are not going to support a wall but you would support a barrier? Where are you on that? Or is that no physical barrier at all?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, surely, I want to make sure we emphasize the deficiencies that we might be down there -- more personnel, more technology. First of all, we're not going to have a wall. Now, can we look at some sort of enhanced barrier? That's something we can certainly look at.

But I have to say, living on the border, you have to let the local border patrol chief have the say so and let the local communities be involved so they can come up with maybe some sort of enhanced barrier. But again, Washington cannot dictate what sort of barrier and where to put it at.

WALLACE: Well, let me make sure I understand, though, because a lot of the border patrol people have been saying they want to see at least in some areas, enhanced barriers. So, are you saying that you and the other Democrats on this conference committee could support the kind of fencing -- we just put up some pictures of it, very tall, 30-foot tall fencing that the president has been talking about?

CUELLAR: No. No, no. Notice what I said is that the local border patrol chief should make that local assessment of the threat and then you let the local communities have a say so. But Washington is not going to say -- is going to say what sort of barrier they're going to have.

Again, I don't believe in the wall. I think a wall is a 14th century solution.

The way the president is saying, the president is looking at a false premise. He thinks that the only way you secure the border is by having a wall. That is a false premise. There's other ways of securing the border.

WALLACE: Well, Senator Hoeven, you hear -- you are on the same panel with Congressman Cuellar. Do you hear the basis for possible deal there or not?

HOEVEN: That's why I proposed at our meeting this week that we bring in the border patrol professionals and were going to do that next week. Chairman Shelby has agreed on the Senate side, where working to get Chairman Lowey (ph) to agree as well.

And then we want the -- including the sector chiefs, to come in and say why they need border barrier as well as personnel and technology and take some of the politics out of the equation.

WALLACE: Let me continue with you, Senator Hoeven, because President Trump suggested this week that he may just give up on the work of your committee and declare a national emergency either during or just after his State of the Union Speech.

Here he is.


TRUMP: We will be looking at a national emergency because I don't think anything is going to happen. I think the Democrats don't want border security.

Listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you'll find it very exciting.


WALLACE: Senator Hoeven, would that be a mistake for the president to preempt and not give you until February 15th to work out a deal? And how do you feel about the whole idea of declaring a national emergency in the first place?

One of your Republican colleagues, Senator Rubio, says you set that precedent, you're going to get a Democratic president somebody who says, well, we need national emergency to redirect funds on climate change.

HOEVEN: Well, the best solution is getting to one where Congress puts together a funding package for border security, including all three components that I've laid out that is acceptable to the House, the Senate, and to the president. That's the best solution.

There have been something like 58 emergencies declared under the National Emergency Act going all the way back to 1979 and President Carter. I think 31 of those are still enforced. So I think what the president is saying is if we don't compromise -- he's put compromise on the table, real compromise, things that Democrats want.

But if we can't get compromise out of Speaker Pelosi and get to a good solution, then he would be forced to go the national emergency route.

WALLACE: Congressman Cuellar, we have the State of the Union speech on Tuesday. What will be the response from House Democrats in the House chamber on Tuesday if the president stands there with Nancy Pelosi right over his shoulder and declares a national emergency?

CUELLAR: Look, when he says there's an emergency, let me give this analogy, if you have a fire if you're going to send that a fire department right there. You're not going to say, you know, if I don't get this, I will send the fire department. If you don't do this, I threaten you with this emergency.

That's not an emergency. By nature, the way he's been laying this out, any reasonable judge is going to say this is not an emergency.

And if you look at the emergency, what he talks about -- you know, our border area, I live at the border, it's safer than most areas, and I have use numbers before. FBI stats will show that the national murder rate is 5.3 murders per 100,000. The border cities are lower than that. In fact, Washington, D.C., is about three or four times more dangerous than Laredo, my hometown.

So, again, he knows it's not an emergency. He's using the threat as leverage to get a wall. He's not going to get that 14th century solution called the wall. It's a false premise (ph).

WALLACE: OK, let's get off the politics, both of you, and let's talk about the merits of the issue, and I've got some statistics here.

First of all, let's talk about the effectiveness of physical barriers. When they were put up in the Yuma, Arizona, sector, arrests for illegal crossings felt 94 percent in three years from 138,000 to 8,000. When barriers went up in San Diego, arrests fell 80 percent and seven years from over half a million to 100,000.

Congressman Cuellar, you voted for fencing in an appropriations bill last year, $1.3 billion for fencing. So why all this resistance to physical barriers now?

CUELLAR: Well, let's look at the effectiveness and the cost effectiveness of a wall. If you put money --


WALLACE: You keep talking about a wall.

CUELLAR: No, no, no --

WALLACE: Wait, wait, sir. Let's just talk about -- let's just talk about barriers rather than a wall.

CUELLAR: OK, OK. Let's call it a barrier but let's call it a fence, let's go in the middle, a fence.


CUELLAR: If you look at the cost-- let's look at the cause of one mile of technology, it will cost $1 million to $2 million per mile. One mile of fencing is going to cost $25 million to 26 million.

If you look at every border patrol chief since Bush, Obama and Trump, when I've asked them this question in appropriations, how much time does a fence buy you, that means how much does it slow them down? They all have said, quote, a few minutes or a few seconds.

If you look at Border Patrol Union, the Border Patrol before 2012 said that a wall was useless because they can go ahead, go under, go around and it is a waste of taxpayers dollars.

WALLACE: OK. Let me bring in Senator Hoeven, because the president keeps calling this a crisis and I want to look at some statistics on that, and this brings up some measures that Congressman Cuellar talked about. In 2000, the Border Patrol stopped 1.6 million people, 19 years ago. Last year, they arrested just a quarter as many, less than 400,000, and two- thirds of the people here illegally each year are visa overstays, not people who cross the border illegally.

So, I guess two questions. One, is there a crisis on the southern border? And two, whatever you want to call it, would a wall stop it anyway?

HOEVEN: Well, it is a crisis. And the numbers are going back up. If you look, we're now going back up to 50,000 to 60,000 people coming every month, 200,000 over the last four months. So, you can see this number is going back up.

And it's not just people coming here illegally. Look at the drug flow, look at the human trafficking, gangs, MS-13. This is something we've got to get a handle on and that's what you need all three components -- border barrier as well as technology and personnel. It's like a three-legged stool and the Border Patrol will tell you that, which is why I go back to what I'm trying to get done.

And you're going to see it happen this week, bring the Border Patrol professionals and, let's hear from them, what they need, why they need it.

WALLACE: OK. I'm going to try to step back for a minute, we've only got about two minutes left, but, Senator Hoeven, Congressman Cuellar, talk to each other. I mean, what's the basis for a deal?

HOEVEN: Sure. I have been to Laredo with Congressman Cuellar. He's a good man and I think we can get to a solution here, but we are going to have to have all three in a way that we can agree on. I'm certainly willing to fund personnel and technology. We've got to have some money for barrier as well.

WALLACE: Are you willing to do all of those things, Congressman?

CUELLAR: Well, I certainly want to sit down with Senator John and other members because I feel that if we don't get outside pressure, the committee can sit down and work this out. Appropriators are -- as you know in Washington, there's Republicans, Democrats and there's appropriators both in the House and the Senate.

We can work out a deal. I know we can sit down and work it if we just don't get any outside pressure, do what we need to do and I feel that the process as appropriators, House and Senate Democrats, Republicans, we can work something out. I feel confident.

By the way, the deadline is February 15th. If we have to do something, our committee probably has to do something by this coming Friday because then you got to print it out and then you've got to lay out the bills in the House and the Senate. So, it's less than February the 15th for the committee to come up with something.

WALLACE: All right, on that relatively helpful note, I'm going to say, Congressman Cuellar, Senator Hoeven, thank you both. Thanks for joining us today, and we'll be tracking what your committee does over the next week or maybe two weeks. Thank you both, gentlemen.

HOEVEN: Thanks, Chris.

CUELLAR: Thanks.

WALLACE: Up next, the U.S. pulls out of a missile treaty with Russia sparking fears of a new arms race. We'll discuss the fallout of the president's split with his intel chiefs and with Senate Republicans, discuss all that with the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. That's next.


WALLACE: Coming up, the U.S. and Russia pull out of a major nuclear arms treaty.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The piece of paper, if it's not been complied with, is -- doesn't reduce the risk. It doesn't take down that threat.


WALLACE: We'll ask the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee if we're headed for a new arms race, next on “Fox News Sunday.”


WALLACE: President Trump's America first agenda will be on full display Tuesday night during his State of the Union Address. On Friday, he announced plans to pull out of the INF missile treaty, a treaty that was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev during the Cold War. All this as Trump's foreign policy is being questioned by some surprising people.

Joining us now from Wisconsin, Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee.

Senator, let me start with the most recent news.

Both the U.S. and Russia have just announced that they are pulling out of compliance with the medium-range missile treaty. President Trump has been saying that the -- the Russians have been violating that treaty for some period of time. The question is, though, that with no new talks scheduled to try to update the treaty and with the long range ballistic missile treaty running out in two years, are we headed for a new arms race?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-WISS.: Well, good morning, Chris.

And, of course, the -- the most salient point here is that Russia has been violating this treaty for at least six years testing and now we believe deploying these intermediate range nuclear missiles. And what's so dangerous about these is, you know, they -- if something flies out of those batteries, it's only a couple of minutes before it hits the target, probably in the European theater, so we have very little warning and all kinds of miscalculations could occur.

So it's unfortunate that Vladimir Putin has taken this path and that he's been violating this treaty, but there's really no treaty in existence when one person is violating and not even admitting to violating it as well. So this is something that's just natural. Our NATO and European allies completely back the president's move here. Hopefully, in the six-month period before -- you know, between the announcement in the final ending of the treaty, Russia will come to her senses and -- and verifiably dismantled these batteries.

WALLACE: Let me turn to another subject.

This week, most Republican senators broke with President Trump on his announcement of a quick withdrawal of some or all U.S. troops from -- all U.S. troops from Syria, about half from Afghanistan.

Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, who introduced the measure opposing a fast withdraw from those theaters.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: ISIS and al Qaeda have yet to be defeated, and American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions there.


WALLACE: Senator, you're one of 43 Republicans in the Senate who voted for the McConnell amendment, opposing the president's announced policy. You say that we can't -- and using your phrase -- "bug out" of Syria and to do so would be, quote, very unwise policy.

JOHNSON: Well, Chris, I can't tell you how many times I came on shows like this after President Obama decided to bug out of a Iraq precipitously and so that ISIS was able to rise from the thoroughly (ph) defeated ashes of al Qaeda in Iraq. And I don't want to be making the same statement six months from now that we bug out of Syria, unwisely, and that ISIS has reemerged from the defeated ISIS -- or ashes of ISIS in Syria.

We met -- a bipartisan group of senators met with the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Coalition, Ms. Ahmad, and, you know, she had a very compelling case to make. They've got about 60,000 fighters. They represent about 4 million Syrians, about 2.5 million Kurds and about a 1.5 million Christians. And they want democracy. They want peace. And she made a very strong case of just having American military people present, not even involved in the fighting, but as advisors does a -- it goes a great deal toward providing the peace and stability for that part of Syria. And I think it would just be tragic if we bugged out, left the Kurds, who, by and large, have done the fighting and have defeated the ISIS caliphate, the territorial caliphate in ISIS, if we just abandon them to the -- to the mercies and let's -- you know, I use that term loosely, of Russia and Iran and possibly Turkey.


JOHNSON: It would just be unconscionable. So -- so, again, I think Republican senators are sending very strong signals to the president, we don't want to see that happen, and I hope he is listening.

WALLACE: So, if he -- he should be listening when there were 43 of the 53 Republican senators voted against his policy, which raises the question, how serious a split is there between Senate Republicans and the president on the Trump foreign policy?

JOHNSON: Well, as it relates to pulling out of Syria, there's -- there's a pretty serious split. Hopefully the president -- because when he -- he came to Senate lunch, he was talking about, you know, we're still going to defeat ISIS and their airbases from Iraq that we can still continue these missions. So, you know, I'm -- I'm not on the ground there. I don't know all the military assets. But it's a very bad sign when Secretary Mattis resigns, Brett McGurk, our envoy there for the defeat of ISIS, also resigns because they simply can't carry out this policy. These are people that are intimately knowledgeable of the conditions of the ground, of -- of are allies there and they simply couldn't in conscience -- in good conscience stay in office. That's a pretty bad sign. I hope the president is listening to those people as well.

WALLACE: Well, talking about people who are knowledgeable on the ground, we saw a remarkable split this week between the president and his own intel chiefs on a number of world hot spots. While the president, since the summit with Kim Jong-un has said that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, here was the testimony this week by the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.


DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities. It is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.


WALLACE: And here are the president and Director Coats on the threat from ISIS.


PRESET: We've really stepped it up and we have won against ISIS. We've beaten them and we've beaten them badly.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.


WALLACE: They also disagreed, the president and, in this case, CIA Director Gina Haspel, over whether or not Iran is violating the Iran nuclear deal.

What do you make of the president and his own intelligence chiefs at such odds?

JOHNSON: Well, let me also say that Ms. Ahmad was -- was also pretty firm in her assurances that ISIS has sleeper cells existing. They are not thoroughly defeated yet.

Now, the caliphate, the territorial caliphate, is gone, but you still have those sleeper cells.

Listen, I come from the private sector. Spent 30 years in manufacturing. Enter public life. And I --I realized -- I have the modesty to understand that there's an awful lot -- there's an -- you know, so much tradition and history and complexity to some of these foreign policy issues, you have to rely on people who have been working these issues for -- for decades. And it's just imperative that you actually listen to, for example, the CIA chief, the director of national intelligence, these people have the real knowledge and you have to listen to them.

WALLACE: Well, that wasn't the president's first reaction. Actually, none of his reactions. His first reaction was to bash the intel chiefs. Let me put up a couple of his tweets. The intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and na<ve. Perhaps intelligence should go back to school. And then after meeting with his chiefs the next day, the presidents at this.


PRESET: They said that they were totally misquoted and they were totally -- it was taken out of context. So what I do is I'd suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news.


WALLACE: Is that healthy? I mean as the head of the Homeland Security Committee, on the Foreign Relations Committee, is -- does that concern you when the president says there is agreement between him and his intel chiefs on all these key issues, when clearly, from listening to their testimony, there isn't agreement?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I just say one instance, the -- what the intelligence chiefs were talking about Iran, they were saying currently and technically Iran is in compliance. But I think the president's absolutely right of the -- the -- this type of danger that Iran represents, not only to the region but the world. I mean they're -- they're -- they're continuing to plot terrorist attacks into Europe. They, obviously, are fomenting the conflict in Yemen. And, you know, they are certainly not helpful in Syria. They are a real threat to Israel and to world peace and stability.

So, technically, they may be in compliance with the agreement, currently they may not be pursuing nuclear weapons, but, you know, they're still fomenting terror, they're still the largest state sponsor of terror in the world. And so I -- you know, again, I think maybe that difference was blown way out of proportion.

WALLACE: I've got about a minute left. I want to go to one other hotspot. There's a lot on the international plate right now and that's Venezuela. The president, this week, announced some dramatic escalations in our campaign against the Maduro regime. He's now backing, as a number of other countries are, the opposition president from the national assembly. And he's also imposed some tough, new economic sanctions on Venezuela.

How far do you think this country should be prepared to go in trying to topple the Maduro regime, and would that extend, in your judgment, to the use of military force?

JOHNSON: Well, I think the administration's really done an admirable job when it comes to their reaction to what's happening on the ground. It's the national assembly, probably the closest thing to an open democratic forum in Venezuela, that voted for -- you know, their assembly president, Juan Guaido, to basically run the country now. And when you see the protest in the street in support of Mr. Guaido, we are just reacting to the conditions on the ground and we are supporting the Venezuelan people in trying to shed the -- just the deprivations of -- of Maduro. When --

WALLACE: It -- I --

JOHNSON: When you listen to the hit squats going into --

WALLACE: Let me just ask you, though, because we're -- we're running out --

JOHNSON: It just is awful. So, again, I think the administration's done a good job.

WALLACE: And where are you on the use of military force, briefly?

JOHNSON: Well, we certainly have to protect American personnel there, and I think that's exactly what we've done, move -- you know, moving troops into Colombia. I really do think the people of Venezuela will take care of the situation and we'll just take -- you know, we'll use economic sanctions to support them. And I think it's appropriate that we do support the people of Venezuela.

WALLACE: Have we moved new troops? Because there was this statement, 1,500 troops in Colombia. In fact, have we done so, sir?

JOHNSON: Well, that's -- I'm just basing it off news reports. That would be a prudent action on my -- you know, from my standpoint. I hope we have done that.

WALLACE: Senator Johnson, thank you. Thanks for your time. It's always good to talk with you, sir.

JOHNSON: Have a good day.

WALLACE: Up next, we'll ask our Sunday group about the president's disagreement with Senate Republicans and his own intel chiefs, and what we can expect from the State of the Union. All that, next.



MCCONNELL: My amendment would acknowledge the plain fact that al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to us here at home.


WALLACE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warning President Trump against pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan too soon.

And we're back now with the panel.

Well, Congressman Chaffetz, 43 of the 53 Republicans voted for the McConnell amendment, against the president's policy of pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Only three Republicans opposed the amendment and seven members didn't vote at all. Profiles in courage.

How significant is the split, do you think, between Senate Republicans and the president over the president foreign policy?

JASON CHAFFETZ, CONTRIBUTOR: That was a very strong message to the president.

But I'm actually with the president. I don't think we should be in Afghanistan and Syria in perpetuity. I think if the Senate wanted to invoke the war powers act and take a strong vote, then have the political guts to go ahead and do that. But -- and I think it's also good that the president has some tension with his intel chiefs. But the president campaigned on this. And what I like about him is he's always taken the same position on the -- on these issues.

WALLACE: But what -- but what about -- what about the -- the intel chiefs saying that there are thousands of fighters still there in Syria? We've only got 2,000 people there. I -- I understand.


WALLACE: But, I mean, it's not a huge number and they're not on the front lines.

CHAFFETZ: Well, I really do worry about the Kurds, but we are able to -- to fight from -- from Iraq. And we do have proximity and we do have the ability, but let's give President Trump a chance. I think he's had great success in dealing with Iran and North Korea. The world is a safer place. And I think trying, the president's doing it the president's way, after, what 17 years in Afghanistan. I think that's the right way to go.

WALLACE: This is not the only issue where Senate Republicans have broken with the president over foreign policy. Let's put up a list.

Yes, this last week they opposed him on quick withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. Before that, imposing new sanctions on Russia over his objection. And also voting -- voicing support for NATO when the president didn't seem to be doing that last summer.

Liz, how big a deal as this, this split?

LIZ MARLANTES, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Well, what I found so fascinating, particularly about the Syria-Afghanistan vote, is that Trump's actually closer to the 2020 Democrats on this issue then he is to his own party. And we could end up in a cycle this coming year where there is no major candidate representing that sort of internationalist interventionists point of view in our presidential race. And that's -- I can't remember the last time we had a cycle. We could end up with two candidates who are both basically much more isolationist than we've ever seen before, which is just fascinating.

WALLACE: I want to turn to the other big split this week between the president and his own intelligence chiefs on the threat from North Korea, Iran, ISIS.

Here is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


PELOSI: One dismaying factor of it all is that the president just doesn't seem to have the attention span or the desire to hear what the intelligence community has been telling him.


WALLACE: Jonah, what do you make of these disagreements between the president and the intel chiefs, who he appointed, and the fact that his first reaction was to go after them and bash them as naive and they need to go back to school, and then after he met with him to say, well, they were misquoted and this was fake news?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. So it's funny, I have profound disagreements with Jason about the Syria-Afghanistan stuff, but this is somewhere where I'm a little more sympathetic to -- to Donald Trump.

I do think this was a little overblown in this divide between the intelligence chiefs. I don't think it was fake news. I don't think President Trump should have said that.

But the simple fact is, is that the intelligence chiefs are right, Iran is -- is in technical compliance because it's a great deal for Iran. On a lot of these things, Donald Trump is the salesman. He's out there -- I don't think he's had great success with North Korea by any stretch of the imagination, but he's trying to. And so he is trying to make his rhetoric turn into reality. So he says he's doing great stuff to build momentum, the intelligence chiefs, they have to have a much more realistic point of view, which is, he hasn't done a lot and a lot hasn't been accomplished and -- and North Korea still wants its nuclear weapons.

And so it's a disconnect between two kinds of -- of missions. The intelligence guys are trying to describe the world as it is. Donald Trump is trying to create a different world than it -- than it currently is and so it's going to see like a big --

WALLACE: And -- and what about Syria? What about Syria and -- and ISIS, where the president says we beat them, they're gone and you have the director of national intelligence saying they're insurging -- they're beginning an insurgency and there are thousands of fighters?

GOLDBERG: Yes, on their I'm entirely with the intelligence chiefs. I think they're entirely right. And I think one of the reasons why we saw Mitch McConnell lead this is because Mitch McConnell is not a huge ideologue about foreign policy. He's hugely committed to getting Republicans re- elected and himself re-elected.

And what we heard Ron Johnson earlier say, I don't want to come back on here in six months and talk about how ISIS is back. I think this was almost entirely about self-protection because Republicans understand, if we pull out prematurely, there are no other players in the region who really care about fighting ISIS. And ISIS will come back. They're in much better shape now than when they were when they first emerged in the middle of the Obama administration.

WALLACE: Mo, one of the arguments that Trump supporters make when -- this split with the intel chiefs -- is the intelligence community is not always right and, obviously, the number one thing they point to is the so-called slam-dunk that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which is what CIA Director George Tenet told Bush 43.

MO ELLEITHEE, CONTRIBUTOR: An overwhelming majority of our intelligence community are dedicated professionals who are really good at what they do. Do they get everything right? Absolutely not. But they don't get everything wrong either, as this president tends to -- to portray whenever he disagrees with them. And so to -- to wage a public battle with your own intelligence community, which is run by his own appointees, seems like a huge concern for a lot of people in the foreign policy and national security community.

WALLACE: All right, in the time we have left, there's going to be a big event on Tuesday, and that is the State of the Union speech. Yes, the president is finally going to get to make it after his back and forth with Nancy Pelosi.

Congressman Chaffetz, this is going to be quite a scene. The president there, in the well of the House, and Nancy Pelosi, and they have really been at it for the last month or so, right over his left shoulder. How do you expect him to deal with Pelosi and the Democrats, and do you expect him -- his overall tone to be confrontational or conciliatory?

CHAFFETZ: Having sat on the floor for the last ten State of the Unions, I can tell you that the Democrats, they are not very disciplined. And when President Trump, who has delivered, I think, two of his very best speeches as president have been the State of the Union, I think he'll do exceptionally well. He stays on script, he's got a good message and he has the microphone for a good hour and a half. But I think the Democrats will overplay their hand. There will be moments when Nancy Pelosi can't help herself and the members in the audience, they were just downright rude. When we were thinking the troops, Democrats were out there sitting on their hands. (INAUDIBLE) do it. You watch, they will do that same thing on Tuesday night.

WALLACE: But, in terms of the president towards Pelosi --


WALLACE: Because he said some tough things about her this week. She's a disgrace.


WALLACE: She's back of the country. Do you expect to hear that our do you expected him to take a softer tone on the very real disagreements they have, particularly over the border wall?

CHAFFETZ: I don't think you can make it personal to Nancy Pelosi, but he has a chance to state his case. What is the national security imperative? And as long as he does that in a tempered way, making the case to the real audience, which is the American people, he'll do just fine.

WALLACE: And do you think Democrats will boo him?

CHAFFETZ: Oh, I think they -- they will do -- they will just -- they can't help themselves. They will overreach and they will be downright rude.


MARLANTES: I don't know. I mean --

WALLACE: I have to say, as a -- as a person on the air covering it, that would be good TV. I --

MARLANTES: I was going to say, if I were advising Democrats, I'd advise them not a boo because I think the worst thing for Trump would be a sort of typical State of the Union, in other words, boring, right? This is his chance for some sort of reset after the whole shutdown debacle. And he kind of, you know, he needs to have a good speech and it's hard to make the State of the Union a good speech, to be perfectly honest. (INAUDIBLE).

WALLACE: We've got less than a minute left.


GOLDBERG: Barack Obama and Donald Trump have shown that State of the Unions don't actually persuade people or move public opinion. By this time next Sunday, the State of the Union will seem like the (INAUDIBLE).

WALLACE: But, having said that, it's very urgent right now.



ELLEITHEE: He's hobbling into this State of the Union. He's hurting. His public opinion is hurting because of the shutdown. Nancy Pelosi kind of owned that whole fight.

I -- it was interesting, I saw a news clip the other day where a White House aide said that the president may throw in a warm and fuzzy towards Nancy Pelosi. I don't know what that means. He's got to appear less strident than he did during the shutdown or else I think his downward spiral continues.

WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, we'll be back with a final word.


WALLACE: Be sure to tune to your local Fox station Tuesday night for President Trump's State of the Union Address anchored by Shepard Smith. And I'll see you here on Fox News Channel for special coverage.

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

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