Can Trump help strike a bipartisan deal on immigration?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Sixty-two percent of the Trump
voters support a pathway to citizenship for the DACA kids if you have
strong borders. You have created an opportunity here, Mr. President, and
you need so close the deal.

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL.: We can agree on some very fundamental and
important things together on border security, on chain, on the future of
diversity visas. Comprehensive, though, I worked on it for six months. We
don't have six months for the DACA.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If we do this properly,
DACA, you are not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. And
if you want to take it that further step, I'll take the heat. I don't
care. I don't care. I will take all the heat you want to give me. And I
will take the heat off both the Democrats and Republicans. My whole life
has been heat.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: It was an extraordinary meeting today at the White House.
President Trump meeting with members of the Senate and the House, both
parties, saying the press may want to stick around, and we did. And we sat
and saw and broadcast this negotiation ongoing about immigration priorities
primarily. President Trump and lawmakers wanting to get to four high
priority areas -- border security, chain migration, visa lottery system,
and DACA policy, a lot of back-and-forth.

And you can imagine immigration conservatives not too happy about it. Ann
Coulter tweeting out, "Trump flanked by Dems and open border GOPs announces
plan for 100 percent open-ended amnesty (per courts). But don't worry.
There will be border security, political euphemism for you are not getting
the wall."

With that let's bring in our panel: Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for Axios; Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, and Katie Pavlich, news editor at Julie,
it was quite something.

spray. That's pretty rare at the White House, and it's a lot easier to do
the reporting when you actually get to sit in the room and hear the

BAIER: We're all for it, by the way.

PACe: We love it. I think it's great. I would take more of these pool

It was a fascinating discussion because you actually do see that on
immigration, which is this really sensitive, very emotional topic, there
actually are the broad outlines of an agreement. There actually have been
for years. But it's when you get beyond these top line talking points --
border security. To Democrats and Republicans, border security can mean
very different things. When you talk about comprehensive immigration
reform, when you start talking about whether that would mean citizenship or
legal status for people, so the president is not wrong when he says he
could see the outlines of a deal here, but getting through the details of
this both on a potential short-term package that could address DACA and
border security and then certainly on a longer-term comprehensive
immigration package, there's a lot to work through here.

BAIER: Sure, but Jonathan, he said whatever you all come up with I am
going to sign even if I don't totally agree with it.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: Right, but the Republican leaders are still
paralyzed with fear of alienating the base and alienating members who don't
want to give amnesty without really big concessions in terms of a wall, and
frankly you see in that meeting, Julie is exactly right, the definition of
what a clean bill is came up. Trump goes, oh, yes, I like a clean bill,
but then it turns out in Trump's mind a clean bill is DACA plus a wall.

And look, where this is heading, like it or not, unless some dynamic really
changes, it's quite likely we get a government shutdown.

BAIER: Or another punt.

SWAN: Or another punt, but they may not get the votes for a short-term CR
because there's a lot of these defense hawks, Republicans, who aren't
willing to go again and kick the can down the road because Ryan give away
the farm last time. So it's actually not going to be that easy to get a
short-term CR.

BAIER: We have seen this story before in Washington about conservatives
concerned about immigration policy. Let me just rewind and just the
atmospherics of that moment. After three days of this Wolff book about
mental capacity and how the president is essentially babbling, he kind of
held court there today.

KATIE PAVLICH, TOWNHALL.COM: He definitely gives the White House an
opportunity to take back the narrative to get away from the drama that the
book presented on the national stage. It allowed the president to do a
number of things. It allowed everyone across the country to see that he
was in control, asking Republicans and Democrats to come to the table with
good ideas that they can agree on but in a civil manner.

It also allowed him to put members of Congress on the record in their own
words about what their ideas were to present them directly to the American
people. And on the issue of DACA and getting a deal, the thing is that
DACA is not just about DACA. It includes comprehensive immigration reform
in terms of all the DACA recipients in this country have parents, they have
families, the parents that brought them here are illegal immigrants, so
they are very directly connected. So you actually can't do DACA without
addressing comprehensive immigration reform. It would be very difficult.

BAIER: Or chain migration and the lottery system and everything else. But
you think the lawmakers in that room, Julie, were surprised that the
cameras were still there?


PACE: Just for people who aren't in the White House every day, you have to
explain how rare this is. We often come in, the press comes in and we see
the top of the meeting where maybe the president, maybe one or two
Congressional leaders will make statements that frankly don't have much
news in them, and then the real negotiations happen behind the scenes.

So to see this play out in real time, to see Kevin McCarthy interrupting
the president to talk about a clean bell, to see the back-and-forth between
the Republicans and Democrats, it's great fun. It's pretty extraordinary.

BAIER: So on the day that some conservatives are concerned about his
positions and what he said in the meeting about immigration, and on the day
when the White House said the president is going to Davos, Switzerland, we
get word that Steve Bannon is stepping down from the Breitbart News
network, saying "Steve is a valued part of our legacy and we'll always be
grateful for his contributions, what he has helped us to accomplish." But
this is a pretty stark fall from grace politically for a guy who was at the
top of the heap.

SWAN: Trump broke him. Trump made phone calls last week and he told
people explicitly you've got a choice. It used to be you used to choose
between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. Now you are choosing between me
and Steve Bannon. And the White House was keeping score, who was going on
TV, who was trashing Bannon, who was dilly-dallying around. And Steve
Bannon found himself completely isolated. His biggest funders, the
Mercers, have backed away from him, and now he's a man who still views
himself as a revolutionary, as this great historic figure, but he finds
himself without a media vehicle, without a platform, without any major
donors funding his political activity, and without any staff. He's a man
entirely alone. It's quite remarkable how fast he's fallen.

BAIER: Katie?

PAVLICH: Just given the way that Steve Bannon swooped in to Breitbart
years ago when Andrew Breitbart passed away, I am happy to see he is gone
and I hope that Breitbart as a news organization can regain what Andrew
Breitbart decided to start there because his name certainly deserves

BAIER: I left off of the list the immigration concerns, Davos, and
bringing up earmarks. That too, all in the same day.

PACE: To bring back earmarks really rattled a lot of conservatives, to
hear the president, I think it was Michael Needham from Heritage who said
to hear the president who promised to drain the swamp talk about bringing
back earmarks is pretty extraordinary.

SWAN: This the other Trump. This is the president he wants to be, the
post-partisan president, bigger than Republican and Democrat, this
transcendent figure. This is the guy he wants to be.

PACE: And earmarks, the upside of earmarks is it's a heck of a lot easier
to make a deal when you have the earmark power.

PAVLICH: Democrat resistance to Trump from the beginning has been so
baffling because he had a record of being a Democrat, being an independent
who can work with everybody. So I think he proved that today with his
meeting on immigration. He is showing he can moderate on a variety of
issues, and he's got this hardcore right winger --


PAVLICH: -- that the left has actually painted him out to be.

BAIER: We will see how hard the hardline integration conservatives come in
coming days and hours.

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