Gorka talks US action in Syria, tensions with Russia; Piers Morgan: Media seem to want Trump to fail

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity," and this is a Fox News Alert. Now, my "Opening Monologue" is coming up in the next segment as we have a lot of breaking news tonight. Jay Sekulow, Sara Carter, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Piers Morgan will all join us, as well as Maria Bartiromo.

But first, let's start with the highly anticipated showdown with the Russians in Moscow earlier today over Syria's use of chemical weapons. The secretary of state, Rex Tillerson -- he met face to space with President Vladimir Putin and held a very contentious news conference with the country's foreign minister.

Rich Edson is in Russia tonight with much more -- Rich.

RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hours of meetings, Sean, in Moscow for the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson with President Vladimir Putin, with foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and it is clear that they have solved very little.

Secretary Tillerson emerged from his meeting saying it is a low point between the U.S. and Russia on their relationship and there is a low level of trust between the two countries.

They cannot even agree on fundamental facts. The Trump administration is arguing that it is Bashar al Assad, his regime in Syria, responsible for a chemical attack against its citizens there last week. Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister here, says that's not the case. He says he wants an investigation to figure out who is responsible.

We asked Lavrov if that investigation comes back and says that Assad is responsible, what would his posture towards Russia be -- Russia to Syria be. He said he refuses to speculate. As for the future of Bashar al Assad, Secretary Tillerson once again reiterated that his time there is ended.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We do think it's important that Assad's departure is done in an orderly way, an orderly way.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We are acting at the request of the legitimate government of a country which is a member of the United Nations.


EDSON: Lavrov added it is hard for him to remember the successful ousting of a dictator. And then asked, if someone can remember, he would like to hear it. The two also argued about Ukraine election interference, but they did agree to continue talking, Sean.

HANNITY: All right, Rich Edson in Russia tonight, thank you.

Also tonight, President Trump held a joint news conference with NATO's secretary-general where they discussed other countries' financial contributions, Syria, Russia, and a lot more.

In Washington at the White House with details is our own Kevin Corke -- Kevin.

KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Sean. You know, you remember candidate Trump called NATO obsolete? Well, today, President Trump said it's only not obsolete, it's frankly essential as a security defense and bulwark against enemy forces, especially those abroad in (ph) Europe, in particular. And I think you know where I'm going with that.

The president talking at length about the need for member nations to get on board, to pay their fair share. He also talked a great deal about Russia. He said it was probably unlikely that the Kremlin knew in advance of that deadly gas attack perpetrated on the Syrian people by the murderous dictator, Bashar al Assad. He also acknowledged that the relationship between Washington and Moscow -- by the way, a frequent critic of NATO -- has seen better days.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It would be wonderful, as we were discussing just a little while ago, if NATO and our country could get along with Russia. Right now, we're not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia.


CORKE: He also praised the work of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who obviously had very difficult duty in Moscow.

Couple things I want to point out. First of all, he wants the members to pay what they owe to help build what NATO can be as a security bulwark again. The second thing is to keep in mind, even as NATO expands, adding Montenegro today, he doesn't want that to become the focus. He wants a relationship with Russia, albeit right now, it's certainly strained, especially when you consider not just what you heard today in Moscow, but also when you consider what happened in Syria and election meddling, just to name a couple of other issues.

HANNITY: All right, Kevin Corke at the White House tonight, thank you, sir.

And joining us now with reaction, from Circa News, Sara Carter, from the American Center for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow.

Sara, I'll get into this in more detail. It seems like, you know, the world is beginning to discover here there's no more bleeding from. Our relationships now been (ph) reestablished with countries in Europe, certainly with Israel. There won't be any more Iranian deals. And America is not going to wait and lead from behind.

I sense the world's having a tough adjustment. President and the secretary of state particularly tough on Russia and Vladimir Putin today.

SARA CARTER, CIRCANEWS.COM: Well, I agree with you there, Sean. And I think that there was a lot of misinformation, I mean, from the very beginning with regard to President Trump and Vladimir Putin. I mean, I remember the stories coming out showing President Trump and Vladimir Putin like they were buddy-buddies.

But I can tell you from the sources that I had, people that are Russian analysts, people that are very close to people in the Kremlin and in the United States, people who were advising both Trump and also Hillary Clinton. Vladimir Putin had no idea how President Trump was going to react. In fact, he was in a state of panic, they said. He would constantly contact the Russian ambassador, trying to figure out, How is President Trump going to react to our policies overseas in Syria? How is he going to react to our policies with Iran?

So I think for -- for -- for so many people, there was such a misconception regarding President Trump and Vladimir Putin, and now we're seeing that what those analysts were telling me was right. I mean, I think it played out fully. They didn't expect President Trump to do what he did, and I think he made a very poignant and decisive decision. And it was a decision that is accepted throughout the world by most people.

I know there's a controversy as to whether or not he should have gone to Congress, but it certainly made it -- he made a decision, and it was a decision that does not lead from behind but certainly from the front.

HANNITY: You know, certainly, if, you know, Rex Tillerson and the president are talking about Putin and Russia being complicit or incompetent, one or the other, it doesn't sound like the president is deeply compromised having colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton that that would be something they would ever say as this bizarre conspiracy theory now, Jay, has been -- been -- you know, that narrative has gone on for eight months.

JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: Yes. So the conspiracy theory is I just that. It's always been, in my view, a faux, a false narrative. And now you've got a decisive action coming out with the president the United States, and you compare that with eight years of leading from behind, as Sara said. But I think more importantly, and what I think is really having the impact here is the president is exercising the muscular power of the United States both in its diplomacy and in its military capabilities.

And they're not -- by the way, those are not two mutually opposites. I think you can be -- you know, Disraeli famously said that you could just -- diplomacy was a form of war. And what you're seeing right now is a diplomatic maneuver going on in Russia right now between Secretary Tillerson and the foreign minister of Russia, that is strong from the United States perspective.

The Russians are trying to figure out how they're going to deal with this. And what the president is trying to do -- and I think he's done a really, very, very good job here, a great job -- is he understands that there was a very dangerous nexus between Russia, Iran and Syria.

And the president, instead of just letting it mature so that you'd have this strong Russia with Iran on the role to a -- on the way to a nuclear armament basically -- without any question, that's where they were heading -- this president comes and says, You know what? We're not only hitting a pause, we are taking back our role as the leader. We are taking our role as the director of how these things are going to play out, and we're not going to allow the Russians to use proxies!

HANNITY: You know, you've been all over the story for us, Sara, and reporting on all the issues involving surveillance and unmasking and intelligence leaking. If the Russians, in fact, had colluded with the Trump campaign, wouldn't the president be compromised and not as forceful as he has been saying that this may be an all-time low in terms of relations?

CARTER: You would think, based on what those in opposition to the president have been saying. You would think that would definitely compromise him and he wouldn't have made this decision. This is certainly a decision that Vladimir Putin did not expect.

And you know, Sean, for the last eight years, I mean, during the Syrian civil crisis and this civil war, there was so much confusion coming out of the Obama administration. I and tell you, talking to intelligence sources that were on the ground in Syria, on the ground in Iraq, they didn't know which way was up, and neither did people that belong to the Free Syrian Army.

Nobody knew what was going on. Were we there to take out Assad? Were we there to go after Islamic State and ISIS and al Nusra and al Qaeda? What was the deal? And I think there was this moment where they felt so emboldened, both Russia, Syria, Iran.

HANNITY: All right, let me...

CARTER: They felt they could do anything!

HANNITY: Jay, I want you to weigh in on the saber rattling and the president's forceful position on North Korea. And one interesting development. You have the Chinese propaganda newspaper, the international newspaper, literally saying China might take out North Korea's nukes.


HANNITY: And then they're sending (ph) back coal and importing American coal. So there seems to have been some breakthrough with China in this meeting at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend.

SEKULOW: Well, what this is showing is that the president's foreign policy is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan. I would even take it to another degree. I think what he's done here has established that the United States is the leader of the free world, period. And here's what we're not going to be, pushed around. You're not going to be able to -- these governments are not going to be able to push around the United States and know that when there's a red line, we're just going to ignore it, as happened in Syria.

So what's the message to the Chinese? I suspect the president made it very clear, You get North Korea under control or we get them under control. We've got the capability to do it. We're not going to allow this lunatic...

HANNITY: He can't get ICBMs.

SEKULOW: ... who is running...

HANNITY: Can't happen.

SEKULOW: That's correct, period. You cannot allow that regime that kind of armaments, period. It's not a negotiation. This president knows that...

HANNITY: All right...

SEKULOW: ... and he's being unapologetic. So when he says "America first," it includes our foreign policy, as well.

HANNITY: All right, guys. Thank you both for being with us...

SEKULOW: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: ... on this busy news night.

When we come back, President Trump -- he's now showing the world that America does mean business, leading from the front, not behind. It's making some enemies nervous. That will be tonight's "Opening Monologue" in our next segment. We'll also get reaction from Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

And later tonight...


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: What we do know is that a president mired deep in scandal involving Russian influence in his election fired off some harmless missiles at the end of a very bad scandal week for him.


HANNITY: All right, cue the "Twilight Zone" music. The alt left propaganda destroy Trump media continues to peddle their bizarre conspiracy theories. Piers Morgan -- he'll join us with reaction tonight. All of that, plus Maria Bartiromo. We'll talk more about her exclusive with President Trump from yesterday and much more straight ahead.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." So after eight years of timid, weak and feckless leadership, America is now back on offense. And as a result, we're are seeing major adjustments from both our allies and our enemies. And that's tonight's Opening Monologue."

President Trump is now orchestrating a very profound and dramatic shift in how America leads on the world stage. It continued earlier today when the commander-in-chief held a joint news conference with NATO's secretary general while the president talked about member countries contributing their fair share of money to joint security, and he pushed for a stronger focus on the issue of terrorism.

Also today, after the Trump administration has repeatedly condemned Russia over the Syria chemical weapons attack, well, the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, he was in Russia meeting with his foreign diplomatic counterpart and with Vladimir Putin. And in response to the growing threat of North Korea developing a nuclear weapon, well, the president has ordered what he is calling an armada to the region in a major show of force.

Here's the bottom line tonight, It's very simple for the world to understand: There is a new sheriff in town, and the world is beginning to take notice. Now, I'm calling it the "Trump Adjustment Syndrome," because after eight years of weakness and appeasement, well, the world is not used to seeing strength and the U.S. now is leading from the front and not from behind.

And global leaders have grown accustomed to America not saying, for example, "radical Islamic terrorism" and America cutting deals with rogue nations, the number one state sponsor of terror like Iran, and the flat-out betrayal of one of our closest allies, Israel. Instead of taking a tough stance with Russia from the start, like what President Trump is now doing, the world was used to and saw Hillary Clinton offering to reset relations. You may remember this.


HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-SECRETARY OF STATE: Sergey, in anticipation of this important meeting and our time here together, I wanted to present you with a little gift which represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying. And that is, we want to reset our relationship.


CLINTON: So we will do it together, OK?


LAVROV: Thank you very much.

CLINTON: You are very welcome. We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?

LAVROV: You get it wrong.

CLINTON: I got it wrong.


LAVROV: It should be terezaguska (ph), and this says teregruska (ph), which means overcharged.


CLINTON: Well, we won't let you do that to us, I promise!


HANNITY: All right, we all know how that turned into a complete and utter failure and disaster. And then instead of pushing the Russians to change their behavior, well, the world watched as President Obama offered them more flexibility. Remember? Tell Vladimir this. Take a look.


THEN-PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.

DMITRI MEDVEDEV, THEN-RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I understand. I'll transmit this information to Vladimir.


HANNITY: Barack Obama, he gave Russia space to operate. And guess what Vladimir Putin did? He took full advantage and ended up walking all over him.

But now that President Trump has restored American leadership on the world stage, well, countries are having a hard time adjusting, and he's making guys like Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bashar al-Assad, radical mullahs in Iran, a little bit uneasy. Now, it's time for them to realize that the old ways of doing things is over.

Now, soon enough, they'll understand very clearly America's back and this landscape is now changed. And President Trump, he's also showing that in some cases, America has a moral obligation and duty to act in the world. That's why he responded to Syria's use of chemical weapons with a targeted and proportional military strike.

Now, I know his actions in Syria is causing some saber-rattling and this criticism of what America's role in the world should be. But to those of you who disagree, let me ask you this question: Should America, the United States of America, sit on the sidelines while innocent men, women and children are gassed to death with chemical weapons? Should we really let what happened there, you know, keep going on? Or should we try and use America's might to stop evil in our time?

Now, President Trump made the right decision. He drew a line in the sand with Syria and letting Assad know that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. So to the detractors out there, the commander-in-chief, he's made it clear: There will not be American boots on the ground -- that was a campaign promise -- in Syria or anywhere else for the time being.

Now, take a look at what he told our friend, Maria Bartiromo.


TRUMP: Just so you understand, we're not going into Syria, but when I see people using horrible, horrible chemical weapons which they agreed not to use under the Obama administration, but they violated it...

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: They said they got rid of them.

TRUMP: Look, what I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it, and you would have had a much better -- I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been.


HANNITY: Now, Maria will join us later in the show.

Look, I understand, America cannot be the world's policeman, we can't rush into every single crisis all around the world. This is a seven-year civil war, we're not going to solve all those problems. But if America doesn't lead and take a moral stand, who will?

Joining us now with reaction, the deputy assistant to the president Dr. Sebastian Gorka. You know, Dr. Gorka, I have friends of mine, very well- intentioned, and they are not happy that the president used force here. And I said to them, you know, if we allow Bashar al Assad to use chemical weapons against men, women and children, this could develop into a modern- day Holocaust.

I don't want boots on the ground. The president didn't put boots on the ground. I don't want an occupation. The president's not occupying. But he did draw a line and said, We cannot allow this moral boundary to be crossed. To me, that's the right thing to do. Your answer.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASST. TO THE PRESIDENT: You're absolutely right, Sean. This is one of those key instances where the moral imperative overlaps with the national security interests of the United States. We didn't ride in there just to do good. We rode in there because Susan Rice lied about the chemical weapons. Russia lied about the chemical weapons. They were used against women and children. If we allow that to happen again, it would be a blight upon values this nation has stood for since 1776.

At the same time, Syria is where ISIS has established its caliphate, along with Iraq. We cannot permit these weapons to be used in that theater because sooner or later, somebody else could get hold of them. The president was explicit. We're not invading. This isn't 20 -- this isn't 2003. This isn't even 1991. So nothing has changed in our policies, but we took action because America has to take action.

HANNITY: I'd be very surprised if Bashar al Assad uses chemical weapons again. So that will have been a good thing we have done to prevent innocent people from dying the most horrific death ever. And that's evil in our time.

Let me ask about Russia. And Vladimir Putin was not going to meet with the secretary of state, but ended up meeting with him. How do you interpret that? And was the message clear that they are complicit or incompetent in controlling what Assad is doing?

GORKA: I think what you saw happen today is an incredibly important and incredibly positive development. We know that this murderous regime has sponsors. One of the most important sponsors is Moscow. Right now, I can tell you inside the Kremlin, they're making a very simple calculation. How much longer should we support Assad in Damascus because it may reach a point where it is no longer in Vladimir Putin's interests to do so. And I think that's why his government met with our representatives.

HANNITY: We seem to be seeing some fruit being borne from the relationship now with China, which, apparently, the president and the president of China were supposed to meet for one hour, ended up going, according to reports, five, five-and-a-half hours. But we know that the communist -- Chinese communist newspaper, their international paper, actually said there is a bottom line here as it relates to China's relationship with North Korea. They recently sent back coal that they'll now be importing from the United States. They're willing to talk about trade negotiations and adjustments.

But I think the most important thing is the editorial in that -- in that the Chinese Communist Party paper actually said they will launch their own attacks on North Korea's nuclear facilities. How do you interpret that?

GORKA: I interpret that one of the most significant geostrategic nations in the world is also drawing the right conclusions about the fact that America is back and America is leading. We're not interested in being global cop. We're not going to be the world's policeman. But there are standards that we insist on.

And the international system cannot function in a vacuum. In the last eight years, that's what Obama created, a vacuum. As a result, we had a world on fire, Sean!

HANNITY: I agree with the world on fire analogy, but it also created an opportunity where Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia aligning with Israel, the Jordanians, the Egyptians probably wouldn't have happened had Obama not betrayed Israel, given this horrible deal to Iran and the possibility of Iranian hegemony in the region. So maybe a lot of good came out of that and maybe even a breakthrough with China. Time will tell.

GORKA: I think you're right. I mean, you know, some positive things can come out of that. But look what we've done already. We've reinforced those positive developments that happen in a vacuum. Look at the meeting with President Sisi. Look at how we've revitalized relations with Israel already.

HANNITY: King Abdullah, yes.

GORKA: King Abdullah. I mean, I don't know if we're tired...

HANNITY: The crown prince.

GORKA: I don't know if we're tired of winning yet, Sean, but this is just a taste, a taste of...

HANNITY: I don't ever get tired of winning. I don't think anybody's going to get tired of that.

Dr. Gorka, good to see you. Thank you.

GORKA: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: And up next tonight on this busy news night here on "Hannity"...


O'DONNELL: What we do know is that a president mired deep in scandal involving Russian influence in his election fired off some harmless missiles at the end of a very bad scandal week for him.


HANNITY: Trump derangement syndrome at NBC News, peddling one conspiracy theory after another. Piers Morgan reacts. That's coming up next.

And also later tonight...


TRUMP: Frankly, Putin is backing a person that's truly an evil person.


HANNITY: Well, there goes that Russian conspiracy because President Trump calling out Putin for supporting Assad during his interview with Maria Bartiromo -- she'll join us next coming up straight ahead.


JACKIE IBANEZ, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Live from America's news headquarters, I'm Jackie Ibanez in New York.

United Airlines officials may find themselves on the hot seat tomorrow. Lawmakers in Chicago where United is headquarters summoned airline reps in the city's aviation department to explain this video right here of a passenger being dragged off a plane. It's not yet known if Oscar Munoz, CEO of United's parent company, will be there. Earlier today the airline agreed to compensate all passengers on that plane for the cost of their tickets.

And Fox News had learned that an arrest has been made in the 2010 murder of U.S. border agent Brian Terry. The accused triggerman is a reputed drug cartel member. He was captured near the border by a team of Mexican and U.S. officers. Terry's death exposed the so called fast and furious scandal. Our government was allowing criminals to buy guns here in the U.S. with the intention of later tracking the weapons to Mexico.

I'm Jackie Ibanez. Now back to "Hannity."

HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So day after day the alt radical left, destroy-Trump propaganda media has showed their true colors especially over at NBC. Let's take a look at just a selection of the bizarre, weird, out of line conspiracy theories and insults. This just aired last night, this is one night only.


CHRIS MATTHEWS: It seems to me that there's always an element of absurdity, as a Romanov of certainly, a royal family of certainly with the Trumps.

CHRIS HAYES: One wonders whether they now perceive that there is political upside in increasing escalation with Russia as a sort of means of producing some sort of domestic political effect with regards to the ongoing investigation there.

O'DONNELL: Donald Trump could say that the missile attack proves that Donald Trump is independent of Vladimir Putin. He could've advised Donald Trump to do the missile attack because he would then be able to say that.

What we do know is that a president mired deep in scandal involving Russian influence in his election fired off some harmless missiles at the end of a very bad scandal week for him.


HANNITY: Joining us now with reaction is the U.S. editor at large of DailyMail.com, Piers Morgan, who used to be a competitor. How are you sir?

PIERS MORGAN, U.S. EDITOR-AT-LARGE, DAILYMAIL.COM: Great now that I'm not competing with you anymore.

HANNITY: I'm glad.


HANNITY: Come on, it wasn't that bad. I love the "Daily Mail." I love the way you guys do news. You cover a lot of U.S. news, and the format is better than 90 percent of newspapers.

MORGAN: Yes, because it's very straightforward. They put up 1,200 stories a day. Nothing stays up for more than 24 hours. It's very addictive and very comprehensive.

HANNITY: A lot of gossip, I like gossip.

MORGAN: It doesn't really take a viewer. It lets you make your mind up. It just tells you what's going on.

HANNITY: So for eight months here in America, you know Donald Trump, you don't always agree with him but you like him. Do you think he is mischaracterized by the media.

MORGAN: My God, it's unbelievable. You have known him?

HANNITY: Two decades.

MORGAN: So I've known him 10 years. I was on the first "Celebrity Apprentice."

HANNITY: You won.

MORGAN: The president United States made me his apprentice, what more could you want in life? But I tend to know Donald Trump very well, and I just buy the characterization of him as some kind of monster, the new Hitler as I keep being told, I think it's offensive to anyone who has to suffer from what Hitler did. He is not a monster. This is a guy who's a very successful businessman. You and I know he's a good family man. Fundamentally he's fun.

HANNITY: People don't see the fun. If you're with him --

MORGAN: It's fun. And now he's the most powerful man on the world and he wants to be success. What I don't like is what looks like the combined will of many sections of the media to not just beat him up because they're all making tons of money by beating them up, whether it's "The New York Times" subscriptions flying to the roof or Colbert who beats up every night is doing great ratings.

HANNITY: He's a comedian.

MORGAN: I've got no problem with any of that. That's all fine. Just be honest about why you're doing it. You're doing it to make money.

But where I have a real problem is where it descends into a sense that I'm getting of a will for him to fail. How does that help America if the combined will of many sections of the media is we want this guy to fail and we are going to trash him every second of every day, we're going to misrepresent, mischaracterize, in my view how monstrous he is. And the pure intent of that is for him to fail.

HANNITY: When you combine background and experience in print with the years you spent in television, and you've watched some of this, for eight months they've been advancing a conspiracy theory that Russia and the Trump campaign colluded to help him get elected. Now they are actually saying that Putin and Trump, they got together and they decided OK, we'll launch the minimal amount of chemical weapons. Trump can respond and distract the media from the Trump-Putin conspiracy with no evidence after eight months.

MORGAN: Utterly ridiculous. It is utterly ridiculous.

HANNITY: I can't say it as well as you, utterly ridiculous.

MORGAN: It is, because just think about that for a moment. We're expected to believe that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin get together and they plan the mass murder of children to make some kind of point that there are no longer best buddies. Really? We think this a legitimate conspiracy theory?

HANNITY: This is NBC News.

MORGAN: I watched Chris Matthews talking about him being the Romanovs, the Trumps. He ended up by saying, not just comparisons to the Romanovs who were this royal family in Russia for 300 years. He said "And we know how that ended." I'll tell you how it ended. The Romanovs all got slaughtered at the start of what became the communist Soviet Union. They were slaughtered with guns and knives in a most brutal and disgusting matter. And whatever your view of the Romanovs, that's not really a comparison I don't think anyone in American media should be making about the Trump of family. What are we supposed to deduce from that comment? That somehow Jared, Ivanka, and Donald are all going to be murdered by communists?

HANNITY: They're attacking his 10-year-old son. They're attacking his wife, they are attacking Ivanka, they're going after women. To me it is just a new low. I said the words on this program often, journalism is dead. And I really believe that. I believe America has an information crisis when major networks buy into bizarre conspiracies.

MORGAN: I take issue. I'm not going to agree that journalism is dead, but journalism at the moment is going through a very strange phase in America where a lot of people are pinning their mast to a pure anti-Trump agenda. The guy won a free democratic election. There is right now absolutely zero evidence linking Donald Trump to any collusion with the Russians.

HANNITY: James Clapper, James Comey, Admiral Rogers, there is no evidence.

MORGAN: There is no evidence.


MORGAN: If some emerges, that's a different story. But I've seen nothing that links him to any collusion to fix that election. Now we've seen him through people like the secretary of state being very tough on Putin.

HANNITY: And Russian.

MORGAN: Right, and saying we've reached an all-time low. We've seen attack Syria directly against Putin would've wanted. This is very strange behavior for a poodle. This is more of Rottweiler, right?


HANNITY: OK, Piers stays with us. And coming up also in the next segment, right here.


TRUMP: Frankly, Putin is backing a person that is truly an evil person.


HANNITY: Would he say that if Putin had the goods on him? When we come back, Maria Bartiromo joins the debate. And we'll show some of the interview she had with the president. That and more, Piers Morgan stays, as we continue on HANNITY straight ahead.



TRUMP: Frankly, Putin is backing a person that is truly an evil person. And I think it's very bad for Russia, I think it's very bad for mankind, it's very bad for this world.

What I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it. And you would have had a much better -- I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been.


HANNITY: That was President Trump during his interview with Maria Bartiromo where he addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria and slammed Vladimir Putin for his support of president Bashar al-Assad.

Joining us now, the host of "Mornings with Maria" on our sister network, the FOX Business Network, Maria Bartiromo, and Piers Morgan stays with us. Piers, said something, we all know the president, we've known him for years. And when you're with him, do you see the guy that I see, which is fun, smart, engaged, wanting to succeed? He does not like failing at all. He wants to win, he's serious about that. Is that what you see?

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Absolutely. And I see real authenticity, and that's what people want. And that's what you want in the White House. You don't want a politician. So I think what he has been able to do in terms of being himself, bringing an authentic persona to the White House, has been very valuable, frankly. No, I agree with that.

HANNITY: I thought you got a lot of news out of him, especially on Syria, with all the conspiracy theories which we were talking about Russia, it's kind of interesting he's taken on Putin to such a high degree, and if Putin had the goods on him I doubt he would be doing it.

BARTIROMO: For sure. I was saying in the commercial break, this whole narrative about Russia started at the Democratic National Convention because it was clear based on all of the emails that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in the tank for Hillary Clinton, trying to take Bernie Sanders down. She gets pushed out. On day one of her conference, her convention, so what are they going to do? They completely changed the conversation. Don't look over here. Look over here. So they start creating this narrative about Russia, and they have just been riding it ever since. It's working for them.

MORGAN: It's a farcical thing at the moment, isn't it, where you've got Tillerson over there being as tough as he could possibly be with Vladimir Putin. You've got almost everybody around Trump being the same, and yet people are still trying to push a narrative that he's his poodle. This is not how poodles behave. I know people who have got pet poodles. They don't bite everybody.

BARTIROMO: I think he gave us such leverage to Tillerson going into this meeting.

HANNITY: He did.

BARTIROMO: All of a sudden the U.S. becomes that much stronger and real leverage against --

HANNITY: Talk about the authenticity, though, he doesn't hold back. He was with the secretary general of NATO today, and he was like you guys have got to pay more. And he said again, you guys have got to pay more. And I thought those were good things on his part.

But let me move forward to the Syria issue. I actually have friends of mine who are at odds with me. I think if you see moral depravity and evil in your time, I don't want America to be the world's policeman, I don't want an occupying force. But I do believe America should be using moral power and authority.

MORGAN: What kind of president do you want? Do you want a president of the United States, the most powerful superpower in the world, to watch video footage as we all did of little children who have been gassed to death?

HANNITY: Your prime minister doesn't want to join forces.

MORGAN: Well, I got issues about that. I think when we voted against taking air strikes Assad the first time after that red line was crossed. This all goes back to Obama. But really that showed America at the weakest I've seen America be perceived around the world in a very long time. Trump has restored a sense that America's military power will be wielded when it feels there is depravity, as you put it.

HANNITY: Do you agree with my monologue from earlier where I'm suggesting the world is going through a little adjustment period, not leading from behind, leading in front, America once again reestablishing its position in the world.

BARTIROMO: Yes, 100 percent. Just the fact that he took this move tells everybody that the era leading from behind is over and the U.S. is a superpower and will in fact ask if they see, if the U.S. sees atrocities. The problem is, what happens next time? We're not expecting Assad not to use chemical weapons.

HANNITY: I don't think he'll use them again.

BARTIROMO: You don't think so?


BARTIROMO: We don't know. Obviously they have them. Susan Rice told us that they were all gone.

HANNITY: It's 18 feet long, two feet wide, 1,000 pounds of munitions, 59 out of 60 hit their target, would you want that? I don't think I would want to face that.

MORGAN: I think he put a big warning sign right down there. He said to Assad, if you want to keep using sarin, this is what you are going to get, and it's going to get bigger and bigger if you keep doing this. That is I think the role of the United States.

HANNITY: I agree.

MORGAN: The United States has to occasionally --

HANNITY: We need Great Britain. Our relationship now will be stronger again as with our relationship with Israel.

MORGAN: Britain supported the strikes. Theresa May I think has shown solidarity with the president as have many other countries.

BARTIROMO: He's gotten global support for this, broad global support, and there is a reason for that. The issue is if Assad steps down tomorrow, what happens then? You don't know the vacuum that is created.

HANNITY: Look at the people who are against it -- Moscow, Damascus and Tehran, and who cares about North Korea, although they are saber rattling as well. Piers, good to see you. Thank you.

MORGAN: Good to see you. HANNITY: And coming up next, we'll have more with Maria, more on her interview from last night. But coming up next.


TRUMP: I'm going to build a wall 100 percent. In fact we have hundreds of bidders. We have many, many designs. I've seen ten of the top, but I want to see more.


HANNITY: The president is not slowing down, and lawmakers in Washington, they better now get on board. We'll explain. That's coming up next straight ahead.



TRUMP: We're going to have a much better plan than Obamacare, which is failing. Tax reform is going to be tough but it won't be as tough as health care. Health care is very, very difficult.

Health care is going to happen as some point. Now, if it doesn't happen fast enough, I'll start the taxes. But the tax reform and tax cuts are better if I can do health care first.

I'm going to build a wall 100 percent. In fact we have hundreds of bidders. We have many, many designs. I've seen ten of the top, but I want to see more. We are looking at designs and we're going to be making a decision very shortly.


HANNITY: That was more of President Trump in his exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo where he doubled down on this promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, tackle large-scale tax reform, and of course build a wall on our southern border.

On this show we have long promised to hold Washington accountable. Congress needs to step up, catch up to the speed of Trump and get something accomplished. It's infuriating.

We continue with the host of "Mornings with Maria," host Maria Bartiromo. This was such a wide-ranging interview, a lot is contingent on health care first because there's $1 trillion in savings that goes right into the economic plan that he's going to lay out. That's a big deal, that's a big piece of that puzzle.

BARTIROMO: It's a huge deal, Sean, because the truth is that President Obama put all of these taxes in the Affordable Care Act and raised $1 trillion. So President Trump wants to overturn that so he has $1 trillion to start with to begin to pay for the tax cuts. So that's why these two things are locked together.

The problem is some Republicans do not want to be feeling like they are playing hostage on tax reform to health care. Paul Ryan has been consumed with a health care act. Obviously they are knee-deep in this. We'll see.

HANNITY: My criticism is they didn't share the bill with leadership, didn't share the bill with anybody. They didn't build consensus. You've got moderates, you've got the study group, you've got the Tuesday group, the Saturday drinking group, you've the Freedom Caucus. I'm making up the Saturday group.


HANNITY: But all these different factions, and I don't think they can do this in the future. They've got to build consensus behind closed doors, no intramural fighting on to cable television.

BARTIROMO: There's no doubt about it. And I worried that they are going to face a similar battle when it comes to the tax reform package because the truth is there a lot of things that people are disagreeing on. Number one, border adjustment tax. My opinion? Not going to have it, no border adjustment tax and the tax reform plan.

Number two, deductions. I got an email from one of my sources on the Hill who said to me, Maria, I saw your interview with POTUS, and I'll tell you right now, I cannot support eliminating the property deduction. And I cannot support eliminating the state income tax deduction. These are some of the things they're going back and forth about, so they've got to get on the same page.

HANNITY: The other thing, there was a story yesterday that some Republicans don't want to fund the border wall. Democrats are threatening to shut down the government. When they get back on the 24th they've got four days. They will probably go with a continuing resolution I suspect. They have four days before they face a government shutdown. It would be better to bring back Congress, pass the health care bill next week, show America they are actually working.

BARTIROMO: Absolutely. The problem is that the truth is President Trump does not have any support from the Democrats. And that's really a sad thing. They are really, truly obstructing his cabinet and obstructing his agenda.

HANNITY: He doesn't have half his government that needs confirmation.

BARTIROMO: He's so understaffed. And that's another issue. But the truth is when you see all this obstruction you realize that they are distracting.

HANNITY: Don't you agree, though, it's kind of inexcusable. The Republicans, they wanted the House in 2010, they got it, the Senate in 2014, then they get the White House. They weren't prepared for repealing and replacing? It's inexcusable.

BARTIROMO: That had no plan. It's ridiculous. Seven years they've been telling us they're going to repeal and replace, it's crazy. And they should have actually repealed, then they would have gotten more support. But we'll see. I think it does take time.

HANNITY: I'm hearing there's a lot of progress. I think their down to one issue which has to do with waivers. Not the community rating, that's been resolved.

BARTIROMO: Right. And so I think something will happen. I think they recognize this is a one opportunity, they have a window, that window was quick to close quickly.

HANNITY: Honestly, that was a great interview. You got so much news of the president, timely. Thanks for sharing it with us. We appreciate it.

And up next, we need your help, a very important "Question of the Day" straight ahead.


HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Time for our "Question of the Day." So do you think President Trump has now restored America's reputation in the world? Yes, I think so. America's leadership on the world stage is pivotal. And it's just going to take a little time for some of these countries like Tehran and North Korea and Russia and Syria to understand what's happening. Anyway, go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

That's all the time we have left this evening. Thank you for being here. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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