This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 15, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Get out now, the U.S. ordering all non- emergency personnel out of Iraq, citing the threat of terrorism and kidnapping from Iran.
Now, it follows alleged sabotage of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and a drone strike on a Saudi pipeline, among others. Forces loyal to Iran are believed to be involved.
So, where is all of this heading, especially when the Brits are saying, we know nothing of this intelligence that the Americans had?
Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.
To Jennifer Griffin at the Pentagon with the very latest.
Jennifer, what's going on?
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Neil, the partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Irbil in Northern Iraq comes after the U.S. military warned of possible imminent threats to Americans in Iraq, where more than 5,000 U.S. troops are based and where the U.S. has its largest embassy in the world.
Democratic lawmakers, including some Iraq War vets, question the intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ, D-N.J.: We do not need another Iraq weapons of mass destruction moment, where we were falsely led into a military engagement in Iraq, which was one of the biggest mistakes we have had in foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: The State Department order comes one day after a British general in Baghdad downplayed the threat, saying he had not seen any evidence of an imminent Iranian strike.
A Navy spokesman for U.S. Central Command rebuke the British Army general - - quote -- "The U.S.-led coalition is now at a high level of alert, as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq."
The alert comes one day after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed seven of its drones struck a Saudi Arabia pipeline, shutting down major oil pipelines, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions, after the mysterious sabotage of several oil tankers the day before.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is now in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman. Keep in mind, the carrier doesn't have to be in the Persian Gulf to carry out strikes. Its F-18 Super Hornet jets are already well within strike range if they are needed, if any American forces are attacked.
In addition to the strategic bombers in the region, there are warships in the strike group armed with hundreds of cruise missiles. Germany and other U.S. allies, Neil, say they will keep their embassy staff in Baghdad for now -- Neil
CAVUTO: Jennifer Griffin, thank you very, very much.
Oil markets were a little rocked by this earlier on, not as rocked by day's end. Oil prices picking up about 24 cents a barrel. You will typically see that when there's unrest or the perception of unrest in the Middle East.
What's kind of keeping a lid on this is trade talks that so far appear to be going nowhere with China and expectations of a global slowdown as a result. We will get to that in a bit.
Back to this Iran crisis, if it is one, and whether we should be worried about it.
Retired Air Force General David Deptula.
General, very good to have you.
LT. GEN. DAVID DEPTULA, RET., U.S. AIR FORCE: Hey, Neil.
CAVUTO: What do you make of all of this?
DEPTULA: Well, it's an extraordinarily volatile time in the region.
I think what the -- all the parties have to do is be cautious to ensure that a miscalculation doesn't occur and a small incident turns into what potentially could be a major regional conflict.
And that's a concern, because, clearly, the cultural motivations between the ruling Shia theocracy, if you will, in Iran and the democratic leadership of the allied nations in the region are quite different.
And so we need to make sure that the tensions are lowered to the point where a miscalculation doesn't become an overwhelming factor.
CAVUTO: General, why would the Iranians tempt fate, you know, launching these attacks or those sympathetic to the Iranians launching these attacks on Saudi facilities or Saudi tankers, a United Arab Emirates tankers, a Norwegian vessel was hit two days ago, knowing that there is this armada from the United States on the way to the region?
Why would they do that?
DEPTULA: Well, because remember that the government of Iran is trying to distract the majority of its people, who are feeling the hardship from the sanctions that the Iranian government is really imposing on themselves by not cooperating with the United States vis-a-vis the negotiations, as well as agreements relative to what they do with their nuclear arsenal.
So they're looking for distractions to distract the domestic afflictions that their people are focusing on, and to shift their mind away from that. And the United States and the other allies the United States in the region are good targets for them to do that.
That's what I mean in terms of miscalculation too.
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
DEPTULA: I mean, we have to be careful not to take the bait either.
CAVUTO: General, should we read anything into the fact that the Brits do not have this same intelligence or have said that they didn't see or get a sense of the same things, that data we apparently share with each other, that the United States did?
DEPTULA: Well, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't put a whole lot into that.
I have spoken to some officials in the region. And there is, in fact, valid intelligence that makes it prudent to take the actions that the United States has.
CAVUTO: Got it.
DEPTULA: What the Brits do is what the Brits want to do.
What we need to do is act on appropriate information to protect our people.
CAVUTO: Got it.
General, thank you. Thank you more for your service to the country. Appreciate that.
DEPTULA: You bet. Any time.
CAVUTO: All right, now this.
President Trump is set to make a major announcement, not on this, but on immigration reform, maybe as soon as tomorrow.
John Roberts at the White House, what we can expect.
Is this going to be like Lindsey Graham's proposal? What do we know?
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No.
Lindsey Graham's proposal is dealing with the emergency that we're currently experiencing on the border, which is the same reason why the TSA is sending hundreds of personnel down to the border to deal with the migrants that have been coming across.
And we have been talking about family units and unaccompanied minors in record numbers as well. This is about -- it's about two things. It's about border security, first of all, and then it's about reforming the system of legal immigration, the green card system.
So, on border security, the president wants, of course, to build more wall. He wants to upgrade ports of entry, so that every person, every vehicle that comes across is screened, and we stop people from coming across in between legal ports of entry.
At the Peace Officers Memorial today, the president talked about the need to secure the border. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Not one more American life should be lost because our lawmakers fail to secure our borders.
Tremendous problems, of course, at the southern border, from drugs, to the wrong people being allowed to come in because of a corrupted, broken system that can be changed in 20 minutes, 20 minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Now, the second part of the system, as I mentioned, is reforming the system of legal immigration.
This is the awarding of green cards, changing it to a merit-based immigration system. Now, the White House -- or the United States, rather, would still issue the same number of green cards as currently being issued, which is just slightly more than a million a year, but they want to change the makeup of the immigrant population.
Currently, employment skills-based immigrants are 12 percent. They want to increase that to 57 percent. Family-based immigration currently is 66 percent. They want to cut that in half to 33 percent; 10 percent of green cards will still be reserved for humanitarian or other, but they will end the visa lottery program.
What the president wants to move to is a Build America visa that will recognize extraordinary talent, people with professional and specialized vocations, and exceptional students who are currently in the country, make moves to keep those people in the United States.
And visas will be awarded, green cards will be awarded on a point-based system, which gives points for age, English proficiency, an offer of employment above a certain wage threshold, and educational and vocational certifications.
Democrats, they're skeptical of anything the president does, and they're skeptical of this too. Listen to Dick Durbin here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN, D-ILL.: Well, there have been so many aborted efforts when it comes to immigration reform and this president. I have -- I'm skeptical as to whether he truly wants to deal with immigration reform. I know he wants a wall. He has said that so many times. Everybody knows it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Now, the president will be laying this out in his speech here at the White House tomorrow afternoon, Neil. White House officials say they would like to see legislation on this, but this reads more like a campaign platform pace that it does an actual plan for legislation -- Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, we shall see, John Roberts.
So, back to that issue of bipartisan support on something like this, it's always been dreamed about. But you might have noticed that more than a few of the Democratic presidential candidates have started talking about the crisis that's at the border, the emergency that's up at the border.
If you think about it, all of that started when former Barack Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told us on Fox first that there is indeed a crisis. Many others have since joined it.
Jeh Johnson is back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Still confident for a China agreement? Still confident that...
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I'm hopeful. I wouldn't say I'm confident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: What is the difference between hopeful and confident?
Welcome back, everybody.
That is reassuring, or is it not? The treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, trying to answer questions about the state of trade negotiations between ourselves and China.
Now, the markets don't seem too, too concerned today. We should point out that the administration did something that might have telegraphed progress on the trade front or being open to making progress on the trade front. And that is removing or postponing auto tariffs that would have affected vehicles coming into this country from Europe, the European Union, Japan, to a lesser extent supplies and auto parts makers in China.
So that's a good start.
Let's go to Fox Business Network's Edward Lawrence with the latest on all of the above.
EDWARD LAWRENCE, FOX NEWS BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Neil.
Yes, the big headline here on China is the fact that there will be another round of talks eventually in Beijing. Now, as you said there, although you heard the treasury secretary saying that he's not confident, but he's hopeful for a deal, we just don't know about that timing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MNUCHIN: I have no plans yet to go to China. We don't have a date set. I would expect that Ambassador Lighthizer and I, who've been doing this together, we would go together at the appropriate time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: And the treasury secretary says that it was China that pulled back about all of the concessions that they had made in the agreement that was there.
The president calling that agreement 95 percent completed. Now, the administration is working on a plan, because China has been targeting farmers, to try and help those farmers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER, R-N.D.: My preference is that you buy the food, because farmers grow food to be purchased and then to be eaten, that you would buy the food, use it for goodwill and soft diplomacy, rather than distort markets in some other way.
But the farmers would prefer to have a trade deal done, obviously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: And manufacturers would also prefer to have a trade deal done. Most of the stuff that we import from China is under a 25 percent tariff.
After June 17, and the report is finished with a list of items that's everything else that Chinese imports -- everything China imports could be under a 25 percent tariff. We're talking about the next round being all kinds of things like coffee, kinds of coats or swings.
Now, the impact of the tariff prompted a phone call between President Donald Trump and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. The Washington Post reporting that, because of an interview Kudlow did on "Fox News Sunday," where he said that Americans would feel the pinch from tariffs, the president -- quote -- "had it out with him."
The president, during that phone call, according to The Washington Post, reaffirmed his position that China would be paying the tariffs -- back to you, Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Edward Lawrence, thank you very, very much.
Now to Ohio Republican Senator, former U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, who, a little more than a couple of days ago, had warned about the dangers of tariffs and how they can get out of control, saying that it will hurt the economy, jobs and wages unless they are avoided.
Senator, very good to have you.
SEN. ROB PORTMAN, R-OH: Neil, thanks for having me on.
CAVUTO: Thank you, sir.
On this impasse still, the tariffs look, at the very least, that they will go into effect on June 1, both with China with $60 billion worth of our goods over there, and better than $200 billion, now $250 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods over here.
Are you worried?
PORTMAN: Well, of course I am, because you don't want to have a tariff escalation. It hurts everybody.
On the other hand, you got to use tariffs as leverage to get China to stay at the table and make the agreement, because agreement is important. You and I have talked about this before. There's no question that China is not playing by the rules, and they have got to change their behavior, both in terms of taking our technology, but also in terms of the subsidies they do, including state-owned enterprises.
So these are structural changes. And then you got to deal with the imbalance in trade. We have got the biggest trade deficit in the world with China right now. So, I think the tariffs...
CAVUTO: But has your stance changed, Senator? I mean, when you were working with President Bush and negotiating with the Chinese, did -- was there sort of a battle, you tariff us, we will tariff you? I mean, hats has significantly upped the ante.
And, to your point, it might work, but has the strategy changed? is it a sign that you and maybe fellow Republicans are open to this, because you think this will be a winning strategy?
PORTMAN: Yes, I do think there's some of that. I think there's a recalibration a little bit on using tariffs as a technique, you know, as a short-term objective to get them to the table and to make the right decisions in terms of these longer-term problems.
But it's not an end, in and of itself. We shouldn't want tariffs to be the result of this. The result of this should be an agreement and take the tariffs off.
The other thing that happened today, Neil, you mentioned earlier, was the president chose to delay for six months a decision whether to put additional tariffs under Section 232, which is under national security, in this case under auto -- for automobiles, a 25 percent tariff.
Many of us had expressed concern about that. I had opposed that, specifically because it's going to raise the cost of cars dramatically for the people in Ohio and around the country and hurt our economy. So I'm pleased the president did that.
I think that's one reason you see the market responding favorably. I would like to have seen that taken off the table altogether, because I think it's a bad idea.
But, in terms of China, I feel differently, because, there, we're not talking about our allies. We're talking about a country that is taking advantage of us and, frankly, the rest of the world. And most of the rest of the world agrees with us.
CAVUTO: So, what do we do, though?
Are Americans braced for the possibility -- and it might be short-lived, to your point, sir -- that this drags on a while, and they're going to face a lot higher prices for a lot more goods?
Now, the president says that they can find alternatives, American alternatives. Maybe it will prompt more companies to do the kind of thing that companies like GoPro are doing and shift factory operations to other locales besides China.
But, in the meantime, I think a lot of Americans are not prepared for the price hikes to come. Should the president be preparing that?
PORTMAN: Well, there are price hikes to come.
And Larry Kudlow was right in his comments, of course, that part of this is borne by consumers. The reality is that the additional tariffs that might be put on in another tranche, as they call it -- in other words, there's additional increases in tariffs being prepared right now -- will be on more consumer goods.
So think about electronics or toys from China or whatever you buy in Target and Wal-Mart, practically. So that's -- that's going to be more directly impacting consumers than the existing tariffs, which are more business- oriented, in other words, things like manufactured products, inputs into companies here in Ohio that talk to me about it.
But I don't hear it from as many constituents or consumers. On the ag side, the issue is that China is buying less. So they're not just putting tariffs on our stuff, which they're now starting to do, but they're just buying a whole lot less, including soybeans from Ohio.
And so, from the ag community, there's an increasing concern too. But, look, I think, on China, we got to hang tough for now.
CAVUTO: All right.
PORTMAN: I think we got to give the president -- the president the flexibility he needs to try to keep the pressure on.
It's a short-term tactic. It's not the solution here. In the end, you want an agreement. And the agreement is lowering tariffs on both sides and getting rid of some of these so-called non-tariff barriers to having fair trade between the United States and China.
CAVUTO: Got it.
And you do. You hope it's short-lived.
Senator, thank you very, very much. I appreciate it.
PORTMAN: Thanks, Neil. Good to be with you.
CAVUTO: All right, a lot more migrants coming in. And now the TSA says hundreds of its own agents are headed to the border to help out.
Why Barack Obama's homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, wonders why Congress and the White House can't come together and do something, like now.
He's here. He's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I was on that trip with Jeh Johnson in June of 2014, when we had 4,400 people in custody in this sector.
QUESTION: And what do you have now?
MCALEENAN: Eighty-four hundred.
So this -- this crisis is much bigger than what we faced back then. And we need Congress' help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan urging action from Congress, saying that the crisis at the border is twice as pressing as it was when he worked with Jeh Johnson back in 2014 during the Obama years.
The former homeland security secretary under President Trump Obama, Jeh Johnson, with us right now.
Secretary, good to have you back.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Neil, thanks for having me.
CAVUTO: What do you think?
I mean, he's the man under fire for the time being. How's he doing?
Well, you know, I owned that problem for three years. Kevin was deputy commissioner of CBP at the time.
CAVUTO: The Border Patrol.
JOHNSON: Yes. And Kevin's a good man. And I have a lot of faith in him.
He's right that what we faced in 2014 is a fraction of what we're seeing today.
CAVUTO: What happened? How did it all spiral like this?
JOHNSON: Well, that's a good question. It's an excellent question.
We had 100,000 apprehensions or encounters in the month of March and another 100,000 in the month of April. It's the highest it's been in 12 years.
And to -- think of it this way. That is the equivalent of the population of the city of Orlando, Florida, showing up on our southern border in the course of two months. That creates a crisis, first of all, emanating from Central America, traveling through Mexico along the Mexican side of the southern border and on the U.S. side of the southern border.
CAVUTO: Do you think the Mexicans are doing enough to contain that, control that?
JOHNSON: Well, one of the things we were able to do in 2014 to contain the spike there was to work with the Mexican government constructively to do more on their southern border with Central America, which is a smaller, more discrete border.
They stepped up to it, and they kept it in place, such that, in 2015, we saw the second lowest number of apprehension since 1972. The numbers started to creep up again in '16.
JOHNSON: Then they fell off dramatically in '17, as soon as President Trump took office.
The message, the lesson from all of this is, you can do certain things short-term to affect the numbers, but as long as the underlying conditions of poverty and violence in those three countries in Central America persist, we're always going to see things revert to their longer-term trends and patterns.
CAVUTO: Everyone wants to be here for the opportunity. I get that and all.
CAVUTO: But the one thing I'm kind of...
JOHNSON: But, Neil, it's so important.
We have to continue that investment in eradicating the poverty and violence. People want quick solutions to this problem.
CAVUTO: But when you invest, you don't know where the money goes a lot of time, right?
JOHNSON: There are ways to make it accountable.
JOHNSON: We have done this before with the Plan Colombia.
It takes time. It takes a sustained political commitment through multiple administrations. But to solve this problem of illegal migration from Central America, we are just simply going to have to make that investment at the source.
CAVUTO: All right, so let's talk a little bit about what the president is outlining.
You might have heard from our John Roberts some of the proposals the president has.
CAVUTO: They're a little different from Lindsey Graham, who wants to address the immediate issue at the border right now.
But do you think there would be Democratic support for some of the things the president will outline?
JOHNSON: Neil, in this environment, it is hard to see how Democrats and Republicans can come together around any bipartisan solution to a very difficult problem.
CAVUTO: Why? Because you and I have gotten into this before, Secretary, but there's so much broad agreement on the bigger issues here, and then, all of a sudden, I guess we're knee-deep into a presidential campaign.
JOHNSON: I saw in that proposal from the White House very little that I think will appeal to Democrats.
It, frankly, reads more like a campaign platform.
CAVUTO: So the green card, just keeping the green cards as they are, but prioritizing that, that wouldn't be enough?
JOHNSON: Or reprioritizing away from family unification, which has been a central tenet of immigration policy for years, will be controversial, but also...
CAVUTO: But it's become controversial because of this issue where kids without their parents are coming to the border and complicating our efforts, right?
JOHNSON: Well, there are other ways to deal with the issue of family units coming up to the border.
CAVUTO: Right. That's a new thing. I mean, there was some of it going on during the Obama years, but it's really accelerated.
JOHNSON: And the Flores decision has not helped, frankly.
That was a decision reached by a federal district court in Los Angeles in 2015. I was opposed to it then. I'm opposed to it now.
But, Neil, you have also got to deal with the existing population of people here who've been here 10, 20 years. We have got to codify into law the dreamer class, for example.
CAVUTO: And this doesn't deal with that.
JOHNSON: This is something Democrats want.
And so this is basic politics. If you want to...
CAVUTO: Well, it's not that the dreamer thing is unaddressed. They have different ways to address it, right?
So is it your sense then that whatever either side proposes, it's just not a 2019 or 2020...
JOHNSON: Look, this is -- we have kind of done this before -- S-744, passed by the United States Senate in 2013 with 68 votes, was comprehensive immigration reform that dealt with border security, more Border Patrol agents, path to citizenship.
There are a lot of things that people had to exercise some political courage to come together on to solve all these problems. There are answers. In this environment, I worry that they are politically unobtainable, but there are answers to dealing with border security, with dealing with holding those who are here in this country accountable.
CAVUTO: But what about being more practical about it? If we can't get a far-reaching deal, to your point -- it's something that would be optimal, but it just doesn't look likely -- the approach is to adjudicate this quickly.
Lindsey Graham wants to hire 500 judges, get them to the border, dealing the cases.
JOHNSON: But, see, Neil, that's the point. That's the point.
You can't adjudicate it quickly with numbers of this magnitude.
CAVUTO: But that's the fire we have. That's the fire we have.
JOHNSON: You can't find some quick and easy fix to deal with the poverty and violence in Central America. These are...
CAVUTO: Granted. I agree with you.
I'm just saying, though, that, short of that -- and like you say, through the Obama administration, this administration, actually through multiple administrations, this problem is persisting. You have got to deal with 100,000-plus who are trying to get in here, right?
JOHNSON: Right, which is the worst it's been in 12 years, correct.
CAVUTO: All right, and so part of the emergency funding, from what I understand, Secretary, is going -- that the president requested is going to go to this.
Some Democrats were skeptical, saying, no, it's just going to go to a wall. The White House says it's not going to go to a wall. Where are you on that?
JOHNSON: Look, I think that there are smart ways of investing taxpayer money in border security.
We should not...
CAVUTO: How about for a wall?
JOHNSON: We don't not view a wall or a fence as a black and white issue.
Are there places on the southern border where some form of barrier could be fortified or an existing barrier replaced or something of that nature? Yes.
JOHNSON: I'm sure Kevin McAleenan has in his desk drawer a smart border security plan, which we ought to be able to come together around.
CAVUTO: But it's still a crisis, still a crisis, right?
JOHNSON: Oh, it's very definitely a crisis.
CAVUTO: So when you hear the 20-some-odd Democrats running for president, a couple have mentioned an emergency and all that.
JOHNSON: Neil, this is common sense.
CAVUTO: But they're leery about it.
JOHNSON: Two hundred thousand people in two months on our southern border is a crisis.
Now what are we going to do about it?
CAVUTO: So, if they don't say that, does it matter to you? Should they just say it?
JOHNSON: No, what I -- I want to make this point.
JOHNSON: Everyone paid attention a month ago, when I said it was a crisis.
I would like people to pay attention to what the solutions are. I owned this problem for three years. And you have to address it at the source system. Suspending aid to Central America is the exact wrong thing to do.
Not only do we need to continue that investment, but when you send the signal that you're suspending aid, you're giving people no hope. When you say, I'm closing the border, you're telling people, go now. You're encouraging the coyotes to sell to migrants in Central America, run for the border now.
CAVUTO: Your more moderating approach sounds a lot like Joe Biden's approach. Is he your guy?
JOHNSON: I'm sitting -- I'm totally neutral. I'm giving you Jeh Johnson's approach.
CAVUTO: Saying nothing just yet.
All right, Jeh Johnson, very good seeing you again.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
CAVUTO: To the former homeland security secretary's position here, both sides have ideas on that.
There are some common themes that they express, but the two shall never meet, and growing cynicism whether the proposal outlined by the president formally tomorrow will do that job, as the crisis continues.
Stay with Fox. More after this.
CAVUTO: All right, here's all the proof you need at that Venezuela is still a mess.
The government now is advising all flights suspended to Venezuela. So if you were looking to vacation there -- as if -- you can't.
More after this.
CAVUTO: All right, well, Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner, he's saying that nobody in the 2020 race that's 21 candidates strong right now, right now could beat Donald Trump.
Why? He says this are all in the political class. Donald Trump is not. That's going to work against him, to the president's favor.
Let's ask Independent Women's Forum's Beverly Hallberg. We have also got former White House press secretary, Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer, and Democratic strategist Emily Sussman.
So, Beverly, is it your view that Mark Cuban is just trying to make a place for himself in a field even, you know, running as an independent? Or is he stating the strong economy and everything else, and none of these men and women have a chance?
BEVERLY HALLBERG, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: Well, there's no doubt that Mark Cuban likes the spotlight, so I think he's testing the waters just a bit.
But he does have a good point.
CAVUTO: He's always testing the waters.
HALLBERG: He's always testing the waters. And he loves controversy. So even saying that he may run as an independent, I think he loves to be on those headlines and people talking about him as somebody who could potentially upset the Democratic primary.
But, of course, I don't think we think of him as a solid candidate, even as an independent. But he does pretty up a good point. The president does have good polling. His polling is very high, even after the Mueller investigation concluded.
And, as you just mentioned, the economy is very strong. So I do think that when Democrats think that they have this in the bag, I think they need to keep looking at some of the numbers out there.
CAVUTO: Well, you know, Ari Fleischer, I'm looking at the president's poll numbers. And they're better than they were, I grant you that.
But let's face it. I mean, with an economy is strong, I know the markets are volatile, but they have been incredibly strong, you could make an argument that he should be up 10 points in the polls, and he's not.
So who says these Democratic challenges are going nowhere?
ARI FLEISCHER, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think Mark Cuban's political analysis is faulty, frankly.
I think Donald Trump very well might win this reelection. But I can also see a number of Democrats winning, because the president's polling numbers are actually quite middling. His approval is about 45 and his disapproval is almost 10 points higher than that, 52, 53, 54.
And so he's got to do even better than he's been doing polling-wise. And it depends on who the Democratic nominee is. If it's Bernie Sanders, I'm pretty sure Donald Trump will win. If it's Joe Biden, then I think you actually might have a really fair fight, where there's going to be a very closely contested presidential race.
CAVUTO: Emily Sussman, what do you think of that? If it's Biden, a good shot, anyone else, or most, maybe not?
EMILY SUSSMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, look, the polling is showing that there's a lot of candidates when they go head to head with Trump will beat him.
On Cuban coming into the field, I do think he's trying to make space for himself in the race. But I think that's because he just wants it to be about himself. The point -- the actual point that I think is a fair one on his -- from his perspective, is that there are a lot of people who thought that Trump was a successful businessman, and that prosperity would somehow translate to their lives.
They are not seeing that, to begin with. And we're also learning more and more that he had...
CAVUTO: What do you mean they're not seeing that? I mean, they are seeing the good economy and record low unemployment, right?
SUSSMAN: They are not seeing their wages going up. It's not matching with the economy. They're seeing they're losing their farms.
CAVUTO: Wait a minute. It's better than it was, right?
SUSSMAN: You were just doing a segment on their tariffs.
CAVUTO: So you would think -- you would argue the economy in this environment, and that that would be a good strategy for the Democrats?
SUSSMAN: I actually do think it's a good strategy.
CAVUTO: All right.
SUSSMAN: People are not seeing their wages going up in the way that they should.
And they're nervous about what's going to come around the corner. Their health care costs are going up, not getting lower. Their drug prices are going up.
CAVUTO: But you can't argue these numbers are what they are. Maybe that's a strategy that could work, Beverly.
But I am wondering whether...
SUSSMAN: Look, you saw the Trump polling numbers.
CAVUTO: OK. As I said, one of the reasons I think that could be, despite the economic improvement and other things the president does, like crazy tweets and all that, but that's another issue.
Beverly, I am curious, though, to -- kind of to Emily's point, whether the candidate the Democrats front should be more moderate in nature, not someone like a Bernie Sanders, not some of these on the hard left who are advocating things that a lot of people will see, fairly or not, as big government run amok, and socialism crazy -- you know the drill.
How do they play that?
HALLBERG: Well, I think it's difficult when it comes to the primary.
I think running somebody who is a little bit more socialist might help in that race there. But when it comes to the general election, it's definitely going to have to be somebody that's more moderate. I think that's the reason why we're seeing Joe Biden do so well.
He distances himself and some of the more extreme left positions. And I think that's why he is doing better, because polling shows that, when it comes to Democrat voters 45 and above, socialism isn't what they want.
CAVUTO: All right, guys, I'm sorry to break away early.
We have got a bulletin I want to pass along here. The president has signed an executive order declaring a national emergency to address threats to our telecommunications networks from some foreign companies.
He might be referring to the Chinese telecom concern Huawei. Whatever the case, good timing is that we Ajit Pai here, the man who runs the Federal Communications Commission. He's here. He's next.
CAVUTO: All right, the president's gone ahead and declared, as I was mentioning a few minutes ago, a national emergency to address threats to the telecommunications networks of this country from some foreign companies and operations.
Huawei might be on his mind here, the Chinese concern with whom the president has been urging U.S. businesses to do no business, and even extending that to our European allies.
Let's get the read on all of this from the Federal Communications Commission chairman himself, Ajit Pai.
Chairman, very good to have you, sir. Thank you.
AJIT PAI, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Thank you for having me on.
CAVUTO: On this, what do you think triggered this order?
PAI: I think it's the fact that protecting America's communications network system is critical to our national security, our economy and our personal privacy.
And especially when you're talking about companies that are located in countries that present a national security threat to the United States, it is important for the U.S. government to take steps to protect those networks.
And so I applaud the president for issuing this executive order. He understands, as does the FCC, that we simply cannot take risks when it comes to our national security of our communications networks.
CAVUTO: Do you know of an incident or series of incidents that made this action necessary? It's always been rumored and suspected. I know you have been studying the issue for quite some time, even before you became chairman.
I'm just wondering what triggered this specifically.
PAI: Well, I can't comment on either the internal deliberations within the executive branch or the classified information that I have seen.
But what I can say is that we need to make sure we have a framework in place to guard against any equipment or services coming into our networks that could present a security threat. That is one of the things, as we emerged into this next generation of wireless networks, 5G, as it is called, we need to guard against.
And I think this executive order is an important step in the right direction.
CAVUTO: Is it targeted at China?
PAI: My understanding, based on some of the language I have seen, that it does not name a particular country.
What it does, however, is set up a framework for understanding the security risks that are posed throughout our supply chain. And I think that is the right way to go. We don't single out particular companies or even countries.
What we say is that every country in the world needs to make sure that they are abiding by some of these security protocols. And if they don't, then, through our supply chain decisions, including the executive order that's been issued today, the American government will take action.
CAVUTO: All right.
The reason why I mention China as the obvious target here...
CAVUTO: ... because we have been raising and haggling about what Huawei is doing, the Chinese telecom concern that has made many advances in 5G technology.
And I know there was an effort on your part and others to dial that back a little bit. Do you think that this would extend to dealings with companies like Huawei or Huawei just itself?
PAI: I would expect that there are a number of companies that would be affected.
Just last week, for example, the rMD-BO_FCC banned the -- another Chinese company called China Mobile USA...
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
PAI: ... from entering the U.S. market.
We found that it was owned and operated by the Chinese government. And that is a risk we don't want to take. And I think the same thing applies to our entire supply chain, whether it's the company Huawei or other companies.
We need to have a crystal-clear view of the threats that we face and take action that is necessary to meet those threats. This executive order, our decision on China Mobile, these are all steps that show the U.S. government takes this threat seriously.
CAVUTO: So do you, as chairman of the FCC, state that the Chinese are a threat to our telecom security?
And the fact is that the Chinese government has instituted a national intelligence law that requires every individual or company within its borders to comply with a request from intelligence services.
The Chinese government, we know, and we have seen in the past few weeks, has engaged in things like economic espionage, computer intrusions and other activities over these communications networks that threaten the security of the United States.
It is time for the U.S. government to take a stand on this issue. The FCC has done that. I'm pleased to see that the president too has issued the executive order along these lines.
CAVUTO: This is complicated stuff for most Americans, myself included, Chairman, but one thing I do readily understand, robo-calls.
CAVUTO: You're trying to put a stop to them. Easier said than done, though. What's the latest?
PAI: Well, the latest is that I have proposed today and shared with my fellow commissioners my proposal that would allow companies to block robo- calls automatically.
Right now, typically, what has to happen is a consumer has to opt in, has to call their phone company and say, block these calls. But many consumers don't do that. It's difficult to do. And, as a result, we haven't seen call-blocking deployed as widely as possible.
Well, now the FCC is saying the legal foundation is clear. Phone companies, you are allowed to block these robo-calls by default. We anticipate this is going to make a significant dent in the...
CAVUTO: When you say by default, I mean, they haven't had that power already? I mean, they have an edict that, if a call is placed, they're responsible make sure it's completed, right?
PAI: There's been legal uncertainty for several years, based on a decision made by the prior administration, of whether or not this call-blocking by default, automatically blocking these calls, was legal.
And so, today, we're taking action to say that these calls -- these call- blocking tools are in fact legal, that you can use analytics to block these calls, and then make sure that you have an option for consumers to opt out of those call-blocking services as need be.
For me, at least, for millions of consumers, they are just sick and tired of not being able to answer the phone with confidence. This proposal is a step in the right direction.
CAVUTO: Do you get robo-calls?
PAI: Oh, absolutely.
In fact, in the green room, I got one from...
CAVUTO: You're the chairman of the FCC, and you get robo-calls.
CAVUTO: I mean, there are five billion, close to five billion such calls made to Americans every month. That stunned me. What do you think this decision on your part will whittle that down to?
PAI: I don't have a specific numerical target for you.
But what I can say is that, if we're able to block these robo-calls at the source, so that consumers never even get them -- and a lot of these phone companies are using advanced analytics to figure out which calls are likely spam -- in fact, right now, some of your wireless carriers might tell you on your phone, this call is spam.
Eventually, we will get to a system that is similar to the e-mail system, where a lot of these e-mail providers simply direct all these junk messages into your spam folder, and you never have to see it.
That's exactly what we want to see for the phone system, so that every call you get on your phone is indeed a legitimate call from somebody you want to hear from.
CAVUTO: All right. We will watch it closely.
Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, very good seeing you.
PAI: Good to see you, as always.
CAVUTO: All right.
In the meantime, some protests are breaking out, actually nationally now, as Alabama's Senate passes a near total ban on abortion.
No word yet when the governor signs this, if she signs this. Is this actually setting up a Supreme Court showdown?
CAVUTO: Alabama's Senate passing a near total ban on abortions even in the case of rape or incest, sending the bill to the Republican governor, Kay Ivey, for final consideration.
Regardless of what you think is going on in Alabama, pro- or anti-abortion, the fact of the matter is, a lot of people say that this is deliberately setting the stage for a Supreme Court battle revisiting Roe v. Wade.
To former federal prosecutor Katie Cherkasky on that.
Katie, is that what this is about?
KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, absolutely.
This law is essentially a long-shot bid to directly challenge Roe vs. Wade. But a lot of people think, myself included, that it's probably not the best strategy to actually get there.
CAVUTO: It's pretty sweeping, I mean, even in the cases of rape or incest, I mean, going back to the first time you get a heartbeat. That could be a month or six weeks into a pregnancy, by which time a lot of women still don't even know they're pregnant.
But that alone makes it significantly more sweeping than other states have done. So where do you think this is going?
CHERKASKY: Well, that was the actual point of the law, was to make it very directly contradictory to Roe vs. Wade.
And the whole point is to hope that the Supreme Court will take on the challenge. So, for the legal path of this law, what will happen is that it will be challenged. It will never go into effect. In fact, it won't go into effect anyway until six months after the governor signs.
But even at that point, there will be lawsuits filed and injunctions. So, for all practical purposes, it's not going to go into effect while there's litigation.
And then the lower federal courts will have no choice but to strike down the law, because it is so directly contradictory to current Supreme Court case law.
So then the question becomes, will the Supreme Court grant a review of the law, or will they simply just deny review and affirm the lower courts' holdings?
And a lot of people believe that this law is just so extreme, that the Supreme Court isn't going to take on such a direct challenge to the current abortion laws in the country.
CAVUTO: So, by not reviewing it, it's dead?
By not reviewing it, it's dead. They will affirm the lower courts' striking down of the law, which is consistent with the current Supreme Court precedent. The only way that this law could pass is if the Supreme Court changes their own precedent.
It's directly in contradiction to it intentionally.
CAVUTO: It's a more conservative court now, Katie, so you could make an argument that they might be open to it.
Now, I know courts have blocked restrictive laws in Kentucky and Iowa, I guess, passed earlier in the last year, but this would be very, very different, but also different is the makeup of the Supreme Court, or would that make a difference?
CHERKASKY: It could make a difference.
We don't know Justice Kavanaugh's record on abortion. It's not clear what he would do. And Chief Justice Roberts as well has actually sided with the liberal justices in other abortion cases recently.
So it's really not a guarantee that, even if the court granted review, that this type of law would be upheld. And I think that would be very extreme. More likely would be an instrumental kind of chipping away at the abortion rights, and potentially allowing for more restrictions on abortion than currently exist, but not completely overdoing it.
CAVUTO: Got it.
Katie, thank you very, very much.
We are still waiting to hear from the governor on whether she puts her signature on that. She is expected to, but, of course, there have been a lot of economic boycotts threatened against Alabama because of this.
More after this.
CAVUTO: All right, it's been an interesting time for bankers under fire from those in Congress in both parties who want their heads.
We have got the former Wells Fargo CEO joining us, and the former American Express CEO Harvey Golub. What's going on with that?
"The Five" right now.
Content and Programming Copyright 2019 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.