Gingrich supports Flynn's request for immunity; Wilbur Ross talks crafting executive orders on trade

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," April 2, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Good morning. Congressional probes in the Russian election interference, heating up. Plus, the battle over health care. Is the new Republican plan on the way?

Hello, everyone, I'm Sandra Smith in for Maria Bartiromo and this is "Sunday Morning Futures."

The Senate's investigation into Moscow and potential ties to the Trump campaign. Will Mike Flynn get immunity to testify? And what about the President's claims that this is a witch hunt? Newt Gingrich joins us live.

Also, the White House dealing the fight over ObamaCare is not over but what is the freedom caucus saying, we will talk one of the members, Congressman Louie Gohmert is here. And President Trump gets tough on trade with the pair of executive orders to help the playing field. Also, down with the man who had crossed the measure, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross joins us onset as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."

Well, this could be a huge week in the investigation of Russia and its potential ties to President Trump's campaign for the White House as soon as tomorrow. The Senate Intelligence Committee could start interviewing people behind closed doors and big questions are stirring about the President's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his potential testimony in the matter. He reportedly wants immunity but so far that has not happened all of this has Mr. Trump takes to Twitter to slam the news media for its coverage continuing to go call the story, "A total scam."

I'm joined now by Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and a Fox News contributor. Speaker, thanks for joining us this morning.


SMITH: So, let's get to that first. The President has taken to Twitter on this and he has called all this a total scam as this controversy continues. Is that something you agree with?

GINGRICH: Oh, I -- yeah, I think in terms of the whole question of the Trump administration it's an absurd story, but I think it raises two other questions. One is was the Obama White House deliberately leaking which would be a felony, who was doing it. I mean, they've committed these crimes. And I think that's a key part of this. And the other is, I think we should know what the Russians have been up too. But frankly that involves the Podesta brothers, one of whom is a registered agent for Russian bank.

It involves all the different things that Peter Switzer wrote about in his book on Clinton Cash. And it's ironic that all of the real evidence of real money and real influence buying by the Russians relates to Democrats, there's no evidence that anybody was quickly being purchased on the Republican side, yet the committees for reasons beyond my understanding are narrowly defining what this investigation is about. It should be about the degree to which the U.S. is penetrated by efforts to corrupt our society and purchase influence.

SMITH: Yeah. And you've heard that time and time again during those White House press briefings this week from Sean Spicer. He keeps saying that the media is obsessed with the process and not the substance here. That continues to be the White House narrative.

But I want to show you exactly what he wrote in the tweet, the President. He said, "It is the same fake news media that said there is 'no path to victory for Trump,' that's now pushing the phony Russia story, a total scam." Why do you think the media is in such a frenzy over this?

GINGRICH: Oh -- I don't think they're actually in a frenzy over this. I think they aren't the frenzy. And this is the latest manifestation of the frenzy.

It's a little bit like the time correspondent who couldn't find Martin Luther King statue because a family is civil service agent was standing in front of it. And so promptly, without checking with anybody sent out a note that Trump had taken Martin Luther King's statue or bust statue out of the Oval Office, which was repeated by 3,000 different sources according to Kellyanne Conway. I think what you have is a left-wing media starting with the times -- New York Times and Washington Post are the big networks. They are so far to the left they are in a frenzy over Trump having one.

This is the latest manifestation, but you're going to see them stay this way, I think, all the way through. They are so frightened that their world is going to be taken apart, which it is. They are watching deregulation, they are watching a conservative Supreme Court justice, they're watching a President who is not afraid to take them on and I think it just increases the panic and the frenzy of the news media.

SMITH: Speaker, the intelligence community has concluded that Russia did, indeed meddle in the 2016 election. The discrepancy here and the conspiracy theories that are out there, and the speculation out there is from the mainstream media you'll see that Donald Trump was involved to that in his campaign was involved in that and colluded with them somehow on the election. There's absolutely no proof of that, we know. But is it reasonable to say at this point, Speaker, that there are a lot of outstanding questions surrounding this and these investigations are certainly needed?

GINGRICH: Look, the Russians believe in a model that we are going to have to figure out how to deal with "hybrid warfare." And that model includes intelligence operation, includes information operations, it includes bribing people, it's a whole range of things. They are doing it right now in Ukraine, they have done in some of the Baltic States and they do it here and they do it in Europe. And we're going to have to figure out how to do it.

That's why I said, I feel much better if the intelligence committees took a deep breaths, stood back and said, we're going to look at everything involving Russian efforts and there are other countries do this but Russia is the biggest one, to subvert American society. And, you know, President Obama himself said last year, of course, they're doing it. They always tried to do it. They did in the soviet days and she shrugged it off.

So, there's no question, the Russian have information operations, they have spending large amounts of money. They have a variety of things going on, none of which particularly related to Donald Trump, and frankly in the past may have helped Democrats far more than Republicans. But we the American people deserve to have the Congress get to the bottom across the whole issue of efforts by Russia to influence and undermine American lives.

SMITH: Do you think that an independent investigation is need or should the Senate take the lead on this?

GINGRICH: Yeah, Former Attorney General Mukasey did a great job on another network when he keeps talking about independent counsel. He said show me the crime. I mean, there is no crime here. I don't know what the crime would be.

And the zero question about any kind of crime by the Trump people. I think that the more you look at this, the more you realize this is hysteria in the news media. By the way, deliberately ignoring Director of National Intelligence Clapper when he says there was no collusion, deliberately ignoring James Comey when he says there was no collusion. I mean, we have had pretty definitive statements that nobody in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

SMITH: Let's talk about Michael Flynn, this is Trump's Former National Security Adviser, he was fired from the administration for having -- for not disclosing conversations with at least one Russian official. He is now asking for immunity in exchange for testifying on the Russian probes. President Trump backed his request this week saying, he should ask for immunity, this is a witch hunt. Do you agree with that?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. Look, I watched an independent counsel destroy the reputation of Scooter Libby when he was Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff. The Independent Counsel knew that the person he was looking for was, in fact, in the State Department, he knew exactly who it was, told the person to keep their mouth shut and went after Scooter in an effort to intimidate him into destroying Cheney

In the process that Independent Counsel locked up a New York Times reporter for 85 days to force her to give what she has said in the book since then was false testimony. Now, I would say -- my advice as a non lawyer to somebody like Flynn or anybody in the Trump White House is, if you don't get a grant of immunity, don't say a word, plead the fifth on every single thing, because you're going to run the risk that the House Committee, the Senate Committee, the FBI are all going to look at your testimony.

Then they're going to look at other's people testimony, then come back not because you did anything wrong but because you either misremembered something which they'll characterizes as perjury, you failed to remember certain document which they'll characterize as obstruction of justice. This is not a game. People's lives have been destroyed by these kind of antics and I think in his own self-interest that General Flynn who has serve this country well has won four bronze medals in combat, for Pete sake.

You know, he's being attack by people who don't have a clue what it is like to defend America. And I think he should absolutely demand that he get immunity before he gets a word.

SMITH: And Devin Nunes, a popular conversation this week on the left is that he should step down. That -- it's not possible for him to continue to conduct a fair investigation as he heads up the House Intelligence Committee for looking at those documents in the White House, disclosing the findings to the President before taking it directly to the committee. Should he excuse himself?

GINGRICH: Look, Adam Schiff is his ranking Democratic member, is fully totally partisan. This is a partisan fight particularly in the House and, of course, if I were Democrat, I would say, you should step down, because he's effective, he's smart, he knows what he is doing. He's going to be very effective at this and if I were Nunes I would just ignore him and cheerfully just keep cheering.

SMITH: All right. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Thanks for joining us this morning. Good to see you, sir.

GINGRICH: Thank you. Glad as well.

SMITH: All right. Well, the White House saying the fight to repeal and replace ObamaCare is still alive. Coming up, we talk to a member of the House Freedom Caucus about the possibility of a second chance.

Remember, you can follow us at Twitter on Sunday Futures, stay was as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: You can take it to the bank. President Trump is never going to stop fighting to keep the promises as he made to the American people and we will make America great again. We will repeal and replace ObamaCare and give the American people the world-class health care they deserve.


SMITH: That was a very adamant Vice President Mike Pence telling crowd in Ohio yesterday that the fight to scrap ObamaCare, "Ain't over yet." This morning President Trump tweeting this, "Anybody Especially fake news media who thinks that repeal and replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in the R. Party, the Republican Party. And talks on repealing and replacing ObamaCare are and have been going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck."

The House Freedom Caucus would be crucial to any new bill. The group of conservative lawmakers help doom the GOPs health care bill before it even came up for a vote.

Joining me now is a member of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas. Thank you for being here this morning, Congressman.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, R-TEXAS: Certainly, and always good to be with you, thank you.

SMITH: As a member of the Freedom Caucus, you were one that was adamantly opposed to the GOP health care bill. First, can you tell us why?

GOHMERT: Well, first of all, it feels a great deal like the 2008 Wall Street bail-out when we had immense pressure on us. You just got to pass this. And so, and it sounds like a lot like in President H.W. Bush's administration when establishment say, I just -- it's a little bitty tax increase, don't worry about it. We got to get this done. That same kind of mentality, when this bill gets actually more power to health and human services, I totally trust Tom Price. But this is like during the W. Bush administration. They said, if you're a patriot you'll give us all this extra power to snoop on people maybe some Americans, but give us this power, we won't abuse it. That gave me so much but we gave so much extra power that the Obama administration has been able to abuse (ph) right and left.

And when people find out if this bill passes as it is, people find out, number one, the rates go up, number two, this was not a repeal, it gave government more power --

SMITH: Well, congressman, you had an opportunity -- you had an opportunity to meet with the president, right?

GOHMERT: -- we agreed twice with the president.

SMITH: You meet with the president the caucuses. And what was the conversation and what came out of that?

GOHMERT: We -- number one, we had to do something to drive the costs down. We've said people are going to be outraged if they find out (inaudible) are going to keep going up. And so, but give Tom Price more power and he'll help bring it down.

We we're demanding, we got to do some things to bring down prices, people can't stand this --


GOHMERT: -- and when they see that it's -- oh, and the president agreed with this twice and each time Priebus and Ryan say, no, no, no you can't do that, he wanted to make a deal, he was ready to make a deal. And we were negotiating with Paul, with Kevin McCarthy right up through Tuesday and all of a sudden they had a meeting and they decided we're so close to having the number we need, let's go to war, get the president --

SMITH: All right.

GOHMERT: -- to help us go to war against the people that defended the president --

SMITH: So, you're taking this to the day.

GOHMERT: -- when Ryan and those guys said abandon him.

SMITH: Congressman, you taken up today and they're vowing that this will happen. You just heard that from the vice president, you heard it from Donald Trump the president --


SMITH: -- himself in a tweet this morning. This is what he tweeted this week, that started this whole conversation about the Freedom Caucus and the president willing to --

GOGMERT: I saw it, I saw it.

SMITH: -- vowing to fight. He tweeted this, "The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast.


SMITH: He said, "We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018." You say you saw it, what was your reaction?

GOHMERT: I heard the same kind of thing in the Wall Street bail-out and as bad President McCain would have been -- he had a chance if he stood his ground. We -- if this bill passes, the president's administration will be defined for the next four years as a fraud, as they promised repeal and they gave more power to the government and it's costing us more, it is going to destroy his administration, but it's a two for the establishment that destroyed the conservatives, the grassroots that stood by the president and that might the president look terrible when people actually find out how bad this hurts --

SMITH: All right, so tell me what does it --

GOHMERT: -- the American individual.

SMITH: -- what does it look like, the Freedom Caucus working with the president moving forward. He is calling out members of the caucus by name --

GOHMERT: All right.

SMITH: -- starting with Justin Amash. He said Justin Amash is a big liability, #Trumptraindefeathiminprimary.

GOHMERT: All right.

SMITH: There's sort of threats coming from the president, four members of the Freedom Caucus if they don't work together. Congressman, I would ask you, tax reform is another priority for this administration. What does it look like working with the --

GOHMERT: It's a priority for all of us.

SMITH: What does that look like?

GOHMERT: Well, it would be a disastrous tax bill if he weakens the conservatives that would make it a good bill, so he's taking advice from Priebus who is establishment to the core and if it keeps up, he is going to get hurt the way establishment people actually hurt Reagan. The only time Reagan succeed was when he didn't listen to the establishment folks like Priebus's today and actually followed his own instinct. But I'm telling you, the president's administration will either succeed or fail over the next 30 days. He can work with people that got him there that defended him when others like Ryan and the establishment were running scared or he can work with us to help him fulfill his promises, but this bill does not -- it doesn't satisfy any --

SMITH: All right.

GOHMERT: -- of the promises that we made. It's going to be bad. It's really going to be a disaster.

SMITH: All right, congressman, we wanted to get your take on that this morning. And by the way, that was Dan Scavino the president's social media advisor that sent out that tweet on behalf of the president. It was great to get your take on things this morning, good to have you, sir.

GOHMERT: Thank you so much.

SMITH: All right, well, the stock market, it has been booming if you haven't noticed, but how long will the surge last? One of the world's leading investors weighs in on the state of the economy and where he thinks markets are heading next, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SMITH: Since election day the stock market has been breaking records and hitting all-time highs while Pres. Trump has promised to roll back regulations and taxes on companies. Maria Bartiromo sat down with billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell to get he is take.


MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good to see you, Sam, thanks for joining us. How is the president doing? We are talking so much about the pushback from the left and the president trying to implement policies. From your standpoint as a business person, how is he doing?

SAM ZELL, AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: I think he's creating a lot of hope. I think that the last eight years has been a period of lack of confidence by the business community in the political leadership of our country and I think the result has been failure to make commitments, failure to take risks, you know, not accidental that corporate America has more cash today in its balance sheet at any time in history.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, because businesses have been sitting on cash --

ZELL: Yeah.

BARTIROMO: -- for the last eight years unwilling to make investment or hire workers.

ZELL: How do you make commitments when you don't know what tomorrow is going to be like.

BARTIROMO: And, you don't know what tomorrow is going to be like largely because of all the regulations that have been put in place?

ZELL: Well, the regulatory burden has been just unbelievable, I mean, I know we are a small player in the regulation world and cost of compliance has gone up five times in the last four years are not productive allocation of capital.

BARTIROMO: So, I mean, that will dictate behavior in terms of how you allocate capital. Look at all your businesses right now. Are they still sort of hoping for, you know, a loosening up of the regulatory environment?

ZELL: I think that the biggest opportunity that Trump has is to create stimulus by loosening up the regulatory environment which by definition means creating stimulus without creating debt to pay for it.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, well, that's the issue. And then, you know, he needs to have some revenue raised as well. When you look at this tax plan that he's talking about, 15 percent corporate rate potentially or 20 percent corporate rate as well as lowering taxes, getting an incentive for companies to take all that $2 trillion overseas and bring it back, will it work, will that dictate behavior where companies will say, OK, my earnings are going to be up because of this lower corporate tax rate, will higher new workers, I will invest?

ZELL: I think the fact that the president of the United States has made prioritization of job in the United States is the number one issue almost by definition means that it will result in positive impact.

BARTIROMO: So you think the economy will get better in the coming years?

ZELL: I think the economy opportunities to get better are significant.

BARTIROMO: You have been looking at the merging markets, are people finally warming up to the American markets?

ZELL: Well, let's start to say they were very hot for the emerging markets then they got very cold.

BARTIROMO: Very cold.

ZELL: And, you know, my history has always been to be in an investor (inaudible) and -- so a lot of emerging markets that -- have been very cold look more attractive to me right now.

BARTIROMO: Yeah, because the valuations are way down now, right?

ZELL: Yeah, particularly Brazil.

BARTIROMO: And, you just invested a lot in Brazil, right? What are you doing in Brazil?

ZELL: Well, we just invested in the largest parking operator in the country.

BARTIROMO: That's right.

ZELL: And, you know, that was done at a time when nobody was interested in Brazil, so hopefully we got a good deal.

BARTIROMO: All right, so then, let me go on the other side of to that coin and ask you about the U.S. because the valuations are way up in the U.S. and you've always been so smart in terms of timing out this market. Are you a seller because of prices where they are right now in the U.S.?

ZELL: Well, I think that, you know, real estate market has done extraordinarily powerful for quite some time and it's very slowly but steadily improved since the bottom of the recession.

What we haven't had during that period of time is significant news supply. We're now dealing with significant new supply in multifamily and hospitality in particular. The good news is demand is still there. If that's the case, then oversupply will be absorbed and we'll go forward.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you before you go, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions this part week talking about sanctuary cities basically saying, look, you don't want to follow the law, we will cut funding, federal funding, is that the right move? What's your take on immigration and sanctuary cities right now?

ZELL: Well, I've always been a big fan of legal, fair immigration. I think immigration is what this country was built on. I think the future of our country is depending on continuing to be the draw -- for committed people all over the world at the same time I think we have to have law that is are followed, so I think the concept of sanctuary cities leaves a lot to be desired.

BARTIROMO: Sam, it's great to have you on the program.

ZELL: Pleasure.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much Sam Zell.


SMITH: President Trump taking executive action on trade. So, what does this mean for the future of deals like NAFTA?

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will join us in studio next as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SMITH: Well, one of President Trump's signature issues during the campaign was trade, of course, and intense criticism of deals like NAFTA that he insists are bad for American workers. Well, on Friday, the President signed two Executive Orders intend to crack down on trade abuses and identify the causes of the U.S. trade deficit. All this just a week before Mr. Trump host the President of China, a country he blames for many of America's trade problems. The man who helped craft those Executive Order is Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who joins us live in the studio. It's such a pleasure to have you, Mr. Secretary.


SMITH: And good to see you. I feel like I -- when you sat down I kind of wanted to know how are things going on now you're inside the White House because I've known you for so many years.

ROSS: Sure.

SMITH: What has that experience been like so far for you?

ROSS: It's pretty hefty experience.


ROSS: As many times since I've been in the oval office -- it's still an exciting thing and makes your heart pump a little faster.

SMITH: And we are talking about these two Executive Orders that the President signed this week, and you obviously had a hand in crafting those E.O.s, what was that process like?

ROSS: Well, the process is pretty straightforward. We decide on the objective, then we clear it with White House policy people and counsel to make sure that it conforms because there has been a little tendency for people to litigate his Executive Orders.

SMITH: Yes. So, I mean, I was looking at some of these stats here between 2001 and 2016, this was shared by the White House Sean Spicer this week. About $2.8 billion in import taxes were uncollected from companies in 40 countries. One of the Executive Orders targets just that?

ROSS: Absolutely. What had happened was that the very clever importers who are beating the laws in a lot of ways set up shell companies those do technical importing, then when we levy a fine there's no financially responsible party there. So, this will call for a process of bonding or putting up loads credit or cash to make sure that when we levy a fund, we collect it.

SMITH: And then the second Executive Order calls on Commerce Department which you had, and U.S. trade representatives to produce this report to identify every possible -- of the U.S. trade deficit.

ROSS: Right. There's never been a systematic examination country by country and major product by major product but why do we have the deficit? Now, in some cases it's innocent, for example, we import some oil because we don't produce enough for our own --

SMITH: For now.

ROSS: So, for the moment. So, you can't blame anybody for that, but there's a lot that's due to cheating, there's a lot that's due to dumping, there's a lot that's due to subsidies that are illegal. A lot to do with a lot of things that are not inherent in free trade.

SMITH: Let me ask you a very simple question that may seem obvious. But I'm going to ask you anyway, is having a trade deficit a bad thing?

ROSS: Well, I think so. Think about it this way: Americans would consume about the same amount of product whether they were made here or made overseas. If they're made here, it creates American jobs. If they're immediate overseas, it creates jobs somewhere else.

SMITH: And as far as the future of NAFTA, what does that look like?

ROSS: Well, I think there is a future for NAFTA but as the President explained to me, if we do make a new three-apartheid deal there that should change the spelling put an extra ‘F', so it'd be NAFFTA, North American Fair Free Trade Agreement.

SMITH: Interesting. All right. So, the big meeting happening this week that Presidents going to be welcoming the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. What happens at that meeting, what's discussed?

ROSS: A lot of things discussed. Obviously, President Xi lives in a very tough neighborhood, people like North Korea. So, that will clearly be a big topic, cooperation on other diplomatic things certainly will be a big topic, and so will trade and economic policy.

SMITH: I believe this was you that said this, yes, this marks the beginning of the totally new chapter in the American trade relationship with our partners overseas. Is everything that we are discussing right now, is the President fulfilling his campaign promises because trade was such a trademark of his campaign?

ROSS: Well, the American public and the American business community, for sure, thinks he is. Stock market is up something like 13 percent, business confidence is way up, consumer confidence is way up, I mean all the polls are showing that while a lot of the media may not approve and certainly some of the Democrats --

SMITH: Not only that which they didn't approve, they don't even mention it, right, Mr. Secretary? And to your point, I drew to these stats before our conversation today the Dow up 13 percent since election day. The S&P 500 an even broader gauge of the American stock market up 11 percent since election day. The administration's been touting increase in jobs, consumer confidence, the highest in March that it has been since the year 2000.

You don't hear a lot of conversation about that. However, I will ask you this, this has been based largely on expectation, this climb-up, and as you said the business community so far likes what they are seeing on trade, on business, on rolling back regulations, on talks of tax reform. We haven't actually seen the tax reform -- what happens to these markets and this confidence as we now have to see this actually implemented?

ROSS: Well, first of all, there had been a lot of things implemented, a lot of regulations have already been rolled back, Commerce Department has also been tasked with this big study of all the permitting rules and regulations that impede American manufacturing. And, in fact, Friday was the deadline for people to put in their list, so pretty soon, we'll be coming out with the things that we feel who should roll back.

SMITH: And so, what's next with your agenda with the President, Mr. Secretary?

ROSS: Well, I'll be down at the Mar-A-Lago session with the Chinese, and that should be fascinating.

SMITH: Wow! Very good stuff. Such an honor to have you ahead of that meeting. Good to have you.

ROSS: Thank you, Sandra.

SANDRA: All right. All right. And now, with a look at what's coming up on media buzz, let's check in with Howie Kurtz. Howie, how's it going this morning?

HOWIE KURTZ, HOST, "MEDIABUZZ": Good morning, Sandra. We'll talk to Sean Hannity about his fight with Ted Koppel's says that opinion shows like Hannity are bad for America. We'll also look at the feud over the House Intelligence Committee probe Devin Nunes. President Trump saying the whole Russia investigation is "fake news" with an all-star panel, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders from the White House, all coming up at the top of the hour.

SMITH: All right. We'll see you in a few minutes. The White House taking aim at sanctuary city, is the Trump administration right when it says those cities don't care enough about stopping crime? More on that as we look ahead, on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SMITH: A Senate Judiciary Committee vote is scheduled for tomorrow on President Trump's nomination for Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, as the Democrats inch closer to the numbers needed for a filibuster, the Republicans are threatening to use the nuclear option to confirm him. Will they do it? Let's bring in our panel, Ed Rollins, is former campaign manager for the Reagan-Bush ticket in 1984. I'm also joined by Richard Fowler, Fox News Contributor, and Radio Talk Show Host; and Caitlin Huey-Burns, National Political Reporter for Real Clear Politics. Good of all for you to be here this morning.


SMITH: All right. Happy Sunday morning to you. And I feel like I want to start with you first, because, you kind of set this up historically, what this -- what would this nuclear option mean if it were?

ED ROLLINS, REAGAN-BUSH TICKET FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It means the Senate will never quite be the same again and will move in more and more to a majority vote on most of the major issues as oppose to the 60 votes in my sense is that's what's going to happen. I doubt that more Democrat are going to come across. Two of now said that they will vote for culture and the other side soon will be against. So, McConnell has made a commitment to the President and commitment to the Republicans that he will go to a new nuclear option which means that they will get it to 51 votes.

SMITH: Caitlin, do you get the same sense that that's where this is going?

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: That seems like where it's going. And I, you know, I do question the Democrats' strategy a little bit here. Yes, they have a very active restive liberal base that wants them to push against anything that Trump wants to do, and also, they have little incentive to work with President Trump because his approval ratings are so low. So, factoring in kind of the politics this, but at the same time, this pick is not going to change the make-up of the Supreme Court, right?

It's a fulfillment of conservative seat. So, if they change the nuclear option, if there's another vacancy that comes up that makes it all the more easier for Republicans to get an even more conservative judge in there. So, it's kind of a questionable strategy but, again, they seem to think that politics is on their side.

SMITH: I mean, look at Richard Fowler, when I saw you walk in, oh, boy, here we go. Let me quote Chuck Schumer, a leading Democrat says, "it's going to be a real uphill climb to 60," his words.

FOWLER: It is going to be an uphill for 60. But I actually going to take a little bit on this one is that, playing chicken with the nuclear option or playing chicken with reversing what the Senate used to be is a tough spot for Democrats to be in. But with that being said, this is Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee. So, if he really wants Gorsuch on the court, he has seven Democrats --

SMITH: Which he does and he has made that very clear.

FOWLER: Yes, and he needs to get down there and he needs to tweet about it. He needs to get down to Capitol Hill and campaign for it. We haven't seen that. He talked about him at the beginning when he had this major top primetime address. We heard nothing from the President on Neil Gorsuch.

SMITH: All right.

ROLLINS: I would argue just the opposite. I would argue this would be better if we just let McConnell get his votes and get it past. The President can sometimes be a distraction; he has got a lot of different things he's going to do this week. He's got some foreign policy. The sector just said this is an inside game. This is either going to be the Democrats are going to lose it by making the wrong decision or the Republicans are going to win it by going to the nuclear option.

SMITH: You brought up the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Let me share with you what he is saying. Caitlin, I'll go to you on this. He says we are going to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed. It will really be up to Democrats how the process to confirm goes moving forward.

BURNS: Right, that's right. And so you have -- Republican Lawmakers who are not all that concerned right now about invoking the nuclear option. Remember Dems -- Democrats did it to -- for executive appointments, changing the Supreme Court would be one thing. Also, you know, if you're trying to get major policies through, if you continue to kind of change these rules, I think Democrats would see a lot of policy that they don't want to get through, get through the Senate if you lower that threshold.

And also, you have to consider that in 2018 you have lots of Democrats up for reelection in State's that Trump won. Republicans think they can expand their map, expand their number, their majority in the Senate after those elections. So, again, figuring out the politics here is really tricky. I don't see how Democrats come out on the winning end if this is the strategy that they go with.

SMITH: Richard, it doesn't seem like Democrats are choosing their battles here.

FOWLER: No, I hear that. I tend to -- I mean, I tend to agree. I'm not sure if we play the nuclear option on this one and here is why because I think Ed and Caitlin right is that this is a Scalia for Scalia seat. This is a fair trade. The next time around, God forbid, I think Kramer Castro said albeit God forbid, that something happens to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we're going to want somebody that is a little bit to the -- farther to the left than Gorsuch is. So I think that there is a little bit of balance of Democrats after play here. But with that being said, once again I disagree with that in the idea that this is Trump's pick. If you can play the parlor game if you want to, but if Trump actually wants to win in this first hundred days, he would get down to the hill and he will work on getting Neil Gorsuch. He could probably get.

SMITH: Here was the significance of this. How important is this confirmation?

ROLLINS: This -- we're not -- we're on the situation in the country were extremely partisan and have been for a number of years. And the House will certainly pass some things and the Freedom Caucus may go to war with the President for a short period of time, but in the end of the day, he's going to need them in order to get anything through to process there.

But to get to the Senate, you're not going to be able do it with 52 votes. You're not going to hold all 52 votes on everything and the reality is that you're going to change the way it works, otherwise in two years, the country is going to say it's a do-nothing Congress again that the administration has promised to do things and didn't get it done. So I'm willing to junk the whole thing. I'm willing to basically get it to the point where it's 51 votes on everything, partisan on both sides and let's get some things done.

SMITH: Always good to get your perspective. Ed, Caitlin, and Richard, all right, thank you very much. Coming up, the fight over Sanctuary Cities, the President threatening to slash their federal funding. But is that enough? Congressman Bob Goodlatte joins us next as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."


SMITH: The White House renewing a promise to cut federal funding to Sanctuary Cities, arguing those cities aren't doing enough about stopping crime. Joining me now is Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Good to have you here Sir, good morning.


SMITH: All right, Congressman. So, what do you make of the White House renewing this promise to cut federal funding for Sanctuary Cities? You heard it reiterated from the White House this week, of course, after that big announcement from Jeff Sessions?

GOODLATTE: Well, I'm all for it. We have been attempting to do this in the Congress for the last few years with the Obama Administration which coddled the Sanctuary Cities even though they instruct their local law enforcement to not cooperate with Federal Law Enforcement officials to keep these cities safe. It makes no sense and we are far better served by going after the 300,000 convicted criminal aliens that are on the streets of this country and should be sent home.

SMITH: It is very concerning when you do see things that are happening in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, where you have Democratic mayors like Rahm Emanuel in the city of Chicago, who comes out immediately after Jeff Sessions makes announcement and his threat to withhold federal funding saying we are a welcoming city. What do you make of the White House saying that this means that they don't care enough about stopping crime in their cities?

GOODLATTE: Well, I think that's absolutely true. Just look at San Francisco releasing someone who had been deported from the country already five times onto their streets sending Kate Steinle gets murdered. Chicago has one of the highest, if not the highest, murder rates in the country. And yet it's setting itself up as a magnet for people who are convicted criminal aliens to be in these cities because likelihood of there being deported goes up when they are in those cities. It's also a problem for the entire country because crime by people who are not lawfully present in the United States occurs in other places as well, and this message that there are such things as Sanctuary Cities, is a magnet that draws people here from other countries. We need to stop it.

SMITH: So you hear a lot of talk about changing these laws and also enforcing the law that is already on the book, Congressman. How likely are these new laws, how likely is it that they will pass?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, there are laws on the books right now requiring local and state law enforcement to cooperate with federal law enforcement. But one of the tools for that is cutting off funding. The President will get a lot of support for that in the Congress and funds for these communities that do not cooperate will be cut off, I predict by the Congress. With regard to other laws, we do need to have interior enforcement laws that will help the President fulfill his commitment. We also need to have laws, for example, that stop people from being caught at the border and then released into the interior of the country. Instead, they should be returned safely to their home.

SMITH: Before I let you go, Congressman, of course, I want to know what's next on the agenda. But that would require me asking you about Republicans and the status of working together. We just interviewed a member of the Freedom Caucus, the President vowing to fight them as well as Democrats after the failure of health care. What is next for you?

GOODLATTE: Well, first of all, with regard to immigration, the House Judiciary Committee has a number of enforcement bills that I know the Trump Administration wants and needs. They have done a great job using the tools they have already cracking down on illegal immigration, but they need some legislation and I think when the American people see the work that he's doing, and then what needs to be done to stop catch and release to stop asylum abuse, stop Sanctuary Cities, they will support this agenda in the Congress and they'll demand that the Congress pass it. The Senate, I was just listening to your last guest, the Senate does need to change its rules because there are so many things in the President's agenda, in what the members of Congress in both the House and the Senate on the Republican side and the majority ran on that need to get out of the Senate, and I hope they change those rules.

SMITH: All right, Congressman Goodlatte, thanks for joining us this morning. Good to see you, Sir. All right.

GOODLATTE: Thanks, Sandra.

SMITH: Still to come. Our panel rejoins us with the one thing to watch for in the week ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." We'll be right back.


SMITH: Panel, what is the one big thing to watch for this week? Ed Rollins.

ROLLINS: The Gorsuch trial. That's the biggest story of the week.

SMITH: All right. Richard?

FOWLER: The Georgia sixth special election to fill Tom Price the seat. Will Democrats pull it off and get an extra seat in the House?

SMITH: All right, Caitlin.

BURNS: Something on the Gorsuch nomination looking at these vulnerable Senators up for re-election next year. What they decide to do on this will give us an idea of what the political climate really is like.

SMITH: You guys are good at that. You've done this before. All right. I wanted to thank Maria Bartiromo for letting me sit in her chair this Sunday morning. That does it for us here at "Sunday Morning Futures." Thanks for joining "MediaBuzz" with Howard Kurtz starts right now.

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