Gov. Abbott on Harvey's impact, Secretary Tillerson talks North Korean threat, Afghanistan strategy

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


Hurricane Harvey turns deadly as it continues to dump feet of rain on Texas. While overseas, North Korea launches more missiles, how will the U.S. respond?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we had and after (ph) --

WALLACE (voice-over): As Harvey continues to flood parts of Texas, we'll have live reports on the devastation and how people there are handling it. And we'll discuss how Texas will deal with the damage to people and property with that state's governor, Greg Abbott.

Then, as the president commits more troops to Afghanistan, North Korea fires off more missiles just days after Mr. Trump praises their restraint.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us.

WALLACE: We'll break down how the administration plans to deal with North Korea and Afghanistan in an exclusive interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Plus, the president pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, drawing harsh criticism from both parties.

JOE ARPAIO, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: I love that president. He supports law enforcement.

WALLACE: We'll ask our Sunday panel if the president is sending a message to aides being investigated by the special counsel.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Hurricane Harvey now downgraded to a tropical storm continues to hammer Texas, causing deadly flooding and leaving devastation in its wake. At least two people are confirmed dead but officials expect that number to rise. The storm has left over 300,000 without power and 1,500 taking refuge in shelters.

And with the drenching storm expected to continue for more days, 10 million Texans are now under a flash flood warning.

In the moment, we'll discuss the damage and the response from authorities with Texas Governor Greg Abbott. But first, we have Fox Team coverage. Meteorologist Rick Reichmuth tells us where Harvey is headed. Steve Harrigan is just outside of Rockford with how folks are coping there.

But we begin with Casey Stegall in Galveston with the latest on the storm -- Casey.

CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS: And, Chris, the conditions continue deteriorating out here rather quickly. This is happening up and down much of the Texas coast.

I will hop out of the way and showing one look at what we are talking here in Galveston. You see stuff like this all over the place, a roadway taking on water right up against neighborhoods. It's impassable the water levels are rising fast because these torrential rains simply will not let up.

Now, look at this video shot not long ago earlier this morning of an actual rescue happening in Houston, a human chain being formed pulling someone to safety. Galveston County and the city of Houston have received highest rainfall totals so far. The National Weather Service says the rain has been coming down at a rate of five to six inches an hour in some places, in fact, 24 inches falling in the Houston metro, which is just to the north of us.

Local emergency management officials say area 911 call centers are swamped with people calling in for help either stranded in their homes or out on the roadways, and forecasters fear the worst may be yet to come in terms of flooding.

Now, President Trump is monitoring this disaster very, very closely. In fact, he held a teleconference by video from Camp David yesterday with key members of his cabinet. He was briefed about the situation on the ground here like people from the new FEMA administration, Brock Long. The federal emergency management agency says now is go time.


EARL ARMSTRONG, FEMA SPOKESPERSON: This is where we figure out who needs what, where, when, how much they need and how quickly we can get it to them and how to get it to them.


STEGALL: President Trump tweeted today: Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government. Continuing rains and flash floods are being dealt with. Thousands rescued.

And while those harvesters are carried out all over the region, residents also under a different threat, tornadoes. Amateur video capturing this, listen to people screaming. Several twisters touching down that have hit the Houston suburbs of Cypress and Katy. Multiple homes have been damaged and minor injuries reported.

For context, the National Weather Service says just between Friday and Saturday, 67 tornado warnings have been issued. Sixty-seven, in fact we woke up to yet another one here in Galveston today. It is starting to look like millions of Texans have a very long road to recovery -- Chris.

WALLACE: Casey, thank you for that report.

Now, let's bring in Steve Harrigan, who is just outside of Rockport, a town that may have been hit hardest by the storm -- Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS: Chris, in this part of the Texas coast, there's a lot of small towns sometimes with a population of just a few thousand. For them, this storm came as a surprise because it went from almost nothing to a major powerful hurricane in less than 56 hours. So, people here really have a choice to make, to stay put in our homes or to leave. Some made the wrong decision.


MATTHEW AYALA, ROCKPORT AREA RESIDENT: I see the other family that was with four or five kids run back in the trailer and the tornado hit it and they were gone. And like to quote more came across the other side coming on the way and they going this way and everybody in that area, they were in the home, there's no way they could have survived.


HARRIGAN: Officials here still don't know just how bad things are. There's no electric power, no cell phone service.

We've seen some search and rescue operations but they are very basic. It is just firefighters on foot with axes, they knocked on doors, kick them in and say, is anybody in here alive?

People here walk around really in a stunned days. They've lost their houses. They've lost their businesses. Some of the people we've spoken to say they don't know what they're going to do next. They have no insurance but after a moment of sadness, many of them admit that they are better off than their neighbors.


COLBY TAYLOR, ROCKPORT AREA RESIDENT: Our houses were gone. Everybody's houses were gone. I've got friends out there that I don't even know if they are all right.


HARRIGAN: Many officials around her tell people: don't come back, we don't have utilities. You would just be a burden. Stay away for now.

But we are seeing people come back a little at a time in the rain to pick through the wreckage to try to find something that's left.

Chris, back to you.

WALLACE: Steve, thank you.

Now with a look at where Harvey is headed, Rick Reichmuth is at the Fox Weather Center in New York -- Rick.

RICK REICHMUTH, FOX NEWS: We have a long ways to go, Chris, from this storm unfortunately. Resources statewide are certainly being taxed.

This is an evolution of the last 48 hours of the storm. The problem is the storm has stalled just in short, just inland, but all of this moisture of this very warm gulf, it's one of the warmest bodies of water anywhere in the world, that moisture continuing to pull up. Now, we're crossing the eastern side of Texas, that's targeting very directly the Houston area and everywhere around it.

Already, we've seen some spots over two feet of rain and we have about another three days to go. We knew there would probably be some spots around the 50-inch rain, rainfall totals by the end of this. We didn't know exactly where that would line up. It looks like it's going a little bit farther east than we had anticipated.

So, we have a very heavy rain in Houston. We've already seen over two feet of rain in Houston and we probably are going to be looking at about an additional two feet of rain by the time this is done. That means the flooding pictures that we've been seeing all day today is only going to get worse by the time we get to Wednesday. The storm doesn't completely pull out of the region, Chris, until Thursday into Friday.

WALLACE: Rick, thank you for that.

Joining me now with the latest on the storm and its impact as the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.

Governor, what is your latest damage assessment for Harvey, both to people and to property?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT, R-TEXAS: Well, Chris, it is bad and growing worse. Obviously, part of the damage assessment is because of where the hurricane hit in the entire surrounding area. Now, of course, we are dealing with the damage around the Houston area because of the flooding.

Dollar-wise, it is large and growing larger, it will be in the billions of dollars but we really will not be able to tell for the next couple of days when better assessments can be made.

WALLACE: What is the biggest challenge right now for you and for authorities there? Is it the flooding in the Houston area?

ABBOTT: We have multiple challenges all at one time. As people can see, the flooding in Houston is dramatic. Some people will recall Tropical Storm Allison that devastated Houston in 2001 and this looks like somewhat of a replication of that.

We're working to save lives and to keep as many people safe as possible in the Houston area, but, Chris, at the very same time, we are conducting search and rescue missions where the hurricane hit near the Corpus Christi and Rockport areas. And so, we are doing multiple duties in multiple parts of the state.

WALLACE: Yes, I want to ask about that, Governor, because we just had a report about Rockport, which may have been a community that hardest hit. And I know the damage has been so extensive that a lot of first responders haven't been able to go in and see what has happened to people who sheltered in place. You know, the casualty account at this point seems remarkably low -- two dead, a dozen or so injured.

I hate to ask this, but is it -- do you expect the casualty count to rise dramatically as first responders get into some of these more devastated areas?

ABBOTT: We will see. We have first responders there. We have what's called Texas Task Force One, Texas Task Force Two. These are search and rescue missions, as well as Texas National Guard who were there, and who are going door to door throughout neighborhoods in Rockport and across that entire region. And so, we will have some more reports that will come out today.

But I will tell you in that particular region, there were a lot of warnings to evacuate. There was a large number of evacuations from that area and those evacuations likely saved a whole lot of lives.

WALLACE: The Gulf Coast, in addition to all these folks in their homes, the Gulf Coast also accounts for about a fifth of this nation's crude oil production and almost half of our oil refinery facilities. What can you tell us about the hit that your energy sector has taken and what impact is that going to have on supplies and prices?

ABBOTT: Sure. I've spoken with leaders of some of these companies. And, listen, they are very experienced in dealing with challenges like this. There are hurricanes and tropical storms that pass through the Gulf Region all the time. They were very well-prepared for, they hunkered down and were able to contain their facilities and they have the ability to ratchet up back up fairly quickly.

This will be probably a one or two-week downturn period for them. But they were prepared for this and they're prepared to wrap up very swiftly.

WALLACE: Let's talk about the federal level, because I know you are coordinating with them. Congress changed some of the rules for FEMA post-Katrina and part of that is that they were much more able to deploy personnel and equipment in place, in San Antonio in the Texas region before the storm hit. Has that made a difference, sir?

ABBOTT: It has made a difference.

I've got to tell you, I give FEMA a grade of A+, all the way from the president down. I've spoken to the president several times, to his cabinet members, such as secretary of homeland security, such as the administrator of FEMA, such as Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services. And so, all across the board, from the White House to the federal administration to FEMA, they've been very helpful.

We were able to see this storm coming a week or more in advance and get a lot of preposition and taking care of, whether it'd be the federal assets or the state assets or the local assets. So, when it comes to preparation, we've never been more prepared for a storm than we have been this time.

WALLACE: What can you tell us about President Trump's personal engagement in this problem and managing the response to it?

ABBOTT: It's been extremely professional, very helpful. He called and said, Governor, whatever you need you've got. And this is the quickest turnaround I've ever seen from the time that a governor made a disaster declaration to getting that granted.

What that means for the layperson out there is because the president so swiftly granted my application for disaster declaration, that means it triggered all the resources of FEMA to help Texas, and what you will see over the coming weeks and months is a tremendous rebuilding from all this damage and a large part of that will be because of FEMA helping out.

And so, we are very appreciative of the way the president and the White House has responded to this catastrophe.

WALLACE: From all the forecasts that you're getting, sir, how much longer is Texas, the people, the millions of people there going to be under the gun from Harvey, whether it's a hurricane or a tropical storm?

ABBOTT: Well, understand that what I'm about to tell you is not precise in perfection, but from multiple reports, I'm hearing that we can expect torrential rain in the greater Houston and east Texas area for days to come. And remember this, and that is the focus on TV right now is the Houston area. But there are miles upon miles outside of the Houston area were a lot of people will face a lot of challenges because of rain, and flooding and rising and water. And so, we got a big task on our hands for at least several days if not a week.

WALLACE: Now, when you say torrential rains, are we talking three feet, four feet, and if so, what to do you about that? How do you try to help save those people?

ABBOTT: Well, Chris, we're measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet. And we are prepared to deal with that in multiple ways. For example, overnight, our National Guard deployed to Houston, Texas, multiple high-level vehicles that are going to be manned by the National Guard.

We are deploying boats and helicopters to be involved in swift water rescues and that would be not just any Houston or Harris County area, but that would be all over east Texas where you can see all the heavy flooding.

But all we can do is to provide as many resources as possible to achieve goal number one, and that is to save as many lives as we can.

WALLACE: Governor Abbott, I want to thank you, especially for taking the time to talk to us in the midst of all this, sir. Please know that the rest of the country has the people of Texas and our thoughts and prayers.

ABBOTT: Thank you so much.

WALLACE: Up next, North Korea launches more missiles. How will the U.S. respond? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson joins us for an exclusive interview.


WALLACE: President Trump's national security team began the week with a careful rollout of a new strategy for Afghanistan. They ended the week with North Korea's surprise launch of three short-range missiles after a pause in its testing program.

It's all part of the job of our next guest, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

And, Mr. Secretary, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Pleased to be here, Chris.

WALLACE: Before we get to foreign affairs, I want to ask you as a native son of Texas, and as the former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, your thoughts about Hurricane Harvey and especially the impact it's having in the oil and gas sector there on the Gulf Coast?

TILLERSON: Chris, you're correct. My wife and I are both Native Texans. We still make our home in Texas and our families are all in Texas. We have many, many friends, family that are in the affected areas. And both her and mine's thoughts and prayers go out to those that are affected, over 12 million is what I understand now in the state of Texas are being impacted.

I think with respect to the response of the state of Texas, Governor Abbott doing a remarkable job dealing with an ongoing event, and I think it's important that people understand and recognize, this is an ongoing event that they're dealing with.

President Trump has convened an all cabinets meeting yesterday. They were going to have another one later this morning to ensure that all agencies were doing everything they can to support the state of Texas and its response.

Now, with respect to the oil and gas industry, they have been through this many, many times. They are probably among the most prepared for these types of events. So, they do a lot of pre-staging of capability, but there will be challenges that are created by a storm of this magnitude and a storm that's going to last as long as this one is. I'm confident that they will respond, though, capably and the government have facilitated that with early action as well.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to your day job. North Korea fired three short-range missiles on Friday. What message do you think the Kim regime is sending?

TILLERSON: Well, the firing of any ballistic missile is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and we do view it as a provocative act, a provocative act against the United States and our allies. We continue to want the Kim regime to understand, there is a different path that he can choose. The international community has been quite clear with the unanimous 15-0 approval of the U.N. Security Council resolution imposing the most stringent sanctions ever to be imposed on North Korea.

There's also a unified international voice echoing our messages that no one wants to see a nuclear Korean peninsula. So, we are all unified in our mission to say (ph) denuclearize Korean peninsula. We hope for the opportunity to engage with them as to how we might achieve that.

WALLACE: This week, both -- before the missile test, both you and the president suggested that Kim might be backing off of his missile program. Here both of you are.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us.

TILLERSON: I am pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we've not seen in the past.


WALLACE: Were both of you wrong about Kim?

TILLERSON: Well, I don't know that we're wrong, Chris. I think it's going to take some time to tell. This type of launch again, it is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. So, it is -- clearly, they are still messaging us as well, that they are not prepared to completely back away from their position.

Having said that, we are going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign as I have described that working with allies, working with China as well, to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table, with a view to begin a dialogue on the different future for Korean peninsula and for North Korea.

WALLACE: President Trump pledged this week to fight and win in Afghanistan and I want to play a clip from his speech on Monday.


TRUMP: Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.


WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, how open-ended is that commitment? How many troops as the president prepared to send to Afghanistan, how long as he prepared to keep them there?

TILLERSON: Well, I think the president has been clear, Chris, that this is a dramatic shift in terms of the military strategy. We are shifting from a time-based military strategy that had very clear troop ceiling levels to now, as he indicated, a conditions-based strategy, which means it will be dictated by conditions on the ground informed by battlefield commanders.

He has also delegated significant authority to Secretary Mattis to set troop levels, but also has been able to delegate for the military commanders in the field, decision-making, to begin to turn the tide against the Taliban.

I think we all recognize that for the past couple of years, the Taliban has been advancing and Afghan forces have been unable to push them back. So, there will be a definite change in military tactics on the ground.

Now, all of this is directed at sending at message to the Taliban that we are not going anywhere. We're going to be here. We're going to continue to fight for the Afghan government, support the Afghan security forces.

And what needs to happen is the Taliban needs to engage with Afghan government in a process of reconciliation and developing a way to govern the country in the future.

WALLACE: But the point I guess I'm trying to get at is, when you say that they -- you were going to be there until they get that message, is that an open-ended commitment? Are you saying whatever the president's view is, whatever it takes?

TILLERSON: The president was clear that he is not setting any arbitrary timelines. He's not committing to any deadlines. He did, in his speech, though -- you will recall -- say that our patience is not unlimited. Our time is not unlimited.

So, I think what the president has indicated --

WALLACE: He was talking about that in terms of the Afghan government.

TILLERSON: Correct. And I think what the president has indicated is we are not going to set arbitrary deadlines. We're going to monitor the conditions on the ground and our decisions will be formed around the progress on the ground.

WALLACE: There's also the question of how this administration defines victory in Afghanistan and you and the president talked about that in somewhat different terms, here you both are.


TRUMP: Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.

TILLERSON: This entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the Taliban understand you will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one but neither will you.


WALLACE: So, Mr. Secretary, which is it? Is it obliterating al Qaeda and ISIS or is it just getting the Taliban to the negotiating table.

TILLERSON: Well, the war against ISIS is quite clear, Chris, and the president has been clear that we will defeat ISIS. We will to eliminate ISIS' capability to organize, to raise financing, to plan, recruit new recruits to their fight to carry out terrorism acts throughout the world.

That fight is progressing quite well. We are well on our way to defeating ISIS. We have now taken the caliphate from them in Iraq. Over 70 percent of the territory has been recovered. None of it has been lost back to those forces. Almost 2 million displaced Iraqi people have now returned to their homes.

In the fight in Syria, we are in the process of liberating Raqqa, which was their self designated capital. That liberation is going quite well. And it's our expectation that we will defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq. And then our effort is global, to ensure that ISIS does not reemerge elsewhere.

Now, all terrorist organizations have somewhat different objectives. So, whether it's ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban or others, our objective is to deny any terrorist organization any territory with which they can organize, raise financing, recruit new fighters, develop techniques for carrying out terrorist attacks and then deploying those. We know that if we deny them the space to do that, we protect the homeland. We also protect Americans and our allies as well.

So, in the case of Afghanistan, Afghanistan has a history of being a refuge for some of the most devastating attacks carried out. As we all know, the attack of 9/11 was organized and carried out from Afghanistan. So, in Afghanistan, we have to secure Afghanistan in a way that that can never occur again because there's no territory available to organizations to do so.

WALLACE: Sebastian Gorka, one of the president's spokesmen on foreign policy, was fired on Friday -- this following the firing of Steve Bannon. And some folks are saying that this is -- particularly on the right, further to the right, I should say -- are saying that this is a victory of the globalists, and they include you in that group, over the so-called America Firsters.

Sebastian Gorka in his resignation letter wrote this about the Afghanistan speech: The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech remove any mention of radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of the presidential campaign has been lost.

Is Gorka right?

TILLERSON: I think he's completely wrong, Chris. And I think it shows a lack of understanding of the president's broader policy when it comes to protecting Americans at home and abroad from all acts of terrorism. Terrorism, as we've said, manifests itself in many types of organization.

The president has charged us to develop policies and tactics both diplomatically and militarily to attack terrorism in as many forms, wherever it exists in the world and wherever it might present a threat to the homeland or to Americans anywhere. This means that we have to develop techniques that are global in their nature. All we want is to ensure that terrorists do not have the capability to organize and carry out attacks.

WALLACE: So, what you make of this division between America Firsters and so-called globalists?

TILLERSON: I don't see any division, Chris. I think it's a question of tactics and how you achieve those objectives. I think the president has been clear in his speech in Afghanistan that we are not undertaking nation-building.

So, we will be shifting our diplomatic and aid and development programs as well to coincide with the president's view that the Afghan government and that Afghan people must own their form of government. And they must come to some reconciliation with all ethnic groups, including the Taliban, as to how they can secure their country, as a peaceful country, one that does not support terrorism, does not provide safe havens for terrorists and does not align itself with any terrorist organizations or countries that do. That's what winning looks like.

WALLACE: Finally, and I got a little over a minute left, the controversy over the racial protest in Charlottesville and the president's response to it has become an international issue. A U.N. committee this week criticized the Trump administration for, quote, its failure at the highest political level to unequivocally reject and condemn the racist violent events and demonstrations.

And here was the president in Phoenix this week talking more about the media than he was about the neo-Nazis and the Klan. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news.


WALLACE: Does that make it harder for you to push American values around the world when some foreign leaders question president's values?

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Chris, we express America's values from the State Department. We represent the American people. We represent America's values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment to people the world over. And that message has never changed.

WALLACE: And when the president gets into the kind of controversy he does and the U.N. committee response the way it does, it seems to say they begin to doubt are -- whether we're living those values.

TILLERSON: I don't believe anyone doubts the American people's values or the commitment of the American government or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.

WALLACE: And the presidents values?

TILLERSON: The president speaks for himself, Chris.

WALLACE: Are you separating yourself from that, sir?

TILLERSON: I've spoken – I've made my own comments as to our vales as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.

WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, thank you. Thanks for coming today. Always a pleasure to talk with you, sir.

TILLERSON: My pleasure, Chris.

WALLACE: Stay safe.

TILLERSON: We'll do.

WALLACE: And let's hope those folks and friends, family in Texas stay safe.

TILLERSON: Indeed. Keep them in your prayers.

WALLACE: Yes, you bet.

Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss President Trump pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Supporters are happy. Critics are outraged.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the president's pardon of Sheriff Joe. Just go to Facebook or Twitter at foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.


WALLACE: Coming up, the president pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm just curious, do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?


WALLACE: We'll ask our panel about the political and legal fallout next on "Fox News Sunday."



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? He should have had a jury. But you know what, I'll make a prediction, I think he's going to be just fine, OK?


WALLACE: President Trump in Phoenix clearly hinting he was going to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In fact, as a line from "The Godfather," today I settle all family business.

And while the country was watching Hurricane Harvey Friday night, the president fired Sebastian Gorka, set out guidelines for banning transgender's in the military, and pardoned Sheriff Joe.

Which means it's time now for our Sunday group. GOP strategist Karl Rove, columnist for "The Hill," Juan Williams, Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for the Associated Press, and Josh Holmes, Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff and the GOP strategist.

Well, Sheriff Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining Latinos on suspicions that they might be illegal. His opponents called it racial profiling.

We asked you for questions about the president's pardon and Maria Swanson tweeted this. If the law doesn't apply to Arpaio, should it apply to anyone else?

Karl, how do you answer Maria? What do you think of the pardoning as a legal proposition and also the politics of it?

KARL ROVE, Fox NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, well, look, the president is entitled under the Constitution to have an unlimited power of pardon. I think he ill exercised it in this instance. Sheriff Arpaio was found guilty of violating a federal court order for over a year that said to stop racially profiling people for driving Latino or walking Latino, and he openly defied it and said he was going to continue the current policy that the federal court had told him to stop.

And this did not go through the normal routine that pardon applications go through, the Department of Justice. It was drafted inside the White House. It didn't go through the regular process, review by outside lawyers, I think the president is making a political statement. An ally of his was about ready to go to jail for six months or so and he stepped in. He had the right to do it. I think it was a bad mistake and a bad signal for the country.

WALLACE: And there's also a report in "The Washington Post" today that the president had actually talked beforehand to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, about not bringing the case in the first place.

Juan, some critics are suggesting that the way that the pardon went down – and I will refer back to what Karl was just saying -- no appeal, no expression of remorse, no review by the Justice Department, may in some sense send a signal to some of his aides who might be under investigation in the unrelated investigation by Special Counsel Mueller, he'll take care of them, too.

JUAN WILLIAMS, Fox NEWS POLJITICAL ANALYST: Well, this was a political act, as Karl said. This was not an act of mercy for someone who had been denied justice. Sheriff Arpaio has not been sentenced yet. He's been convicted but not sentenced. So this was a preemptive act by President Trump that I think then sets a precedent going in that he can act in terms of pardons with little rebuke from the Justice Department to help out someone who's a family member, someone who's a political ally.

This -- you remember, Arpaio was not only an early supporter of Donald Trump, he was an early birther, and he is the face of hostility towards immigrants, specifically with Mexicans and Latinos in his country. So it was a political act that he promised his base on Tuesday night at that rally in Phoenix and he has delivered on that promise in such a way as to say that in the future such acts of pardon are now more normal. He can say this set a pattern and he can pardon family, friends and allies.

WALLACE: Josh, are we overanalyzing this?

JOSH HOLMES, FOUNDER, CAVALRY: Yes, I don't think there's any grave threat to the democracy here. I mean the presidential pardons are pretty clear. He's got really broad authority to do just about anything he wants. And this is an 85-year-old law enforcement officer who, you know, may or may not get six months in prison as a result of a guilty verdict. In comparison to some of the pardons and clemency that we've seen over the last decade or two decades, it sort of pales in comparison. My guess is that your reaction to this is probably a direct attribution to how you feel about Joe Arpaio. And, you know, he's no -- not my cup of tea, but I think for a lot of Trump supporters, he's the face of law and order.

WILLIAMS: But I think – I think, just quickly, sorry for interrupting, Chris, but I think very quickly, Josh, the idea that you undermine a federal court order and say that law enforcement is not subject to equal justice under the law seems different to me. When Nixon was pardoned by Ford, huge pushback, even from the president of the United States, allowing a double standard to be put in place for a former president.

HOLMES: Well –

ROVE: Yes, we now recognize, however, that was a great act on behalf of our country. It united our country by putting that issue behind us.

I'd say this. The suggestion in "The Washington Post" that there is a grand strategy to pardon Arpaio and signal to anybody who might be involved in the campaign, Russian (INAUDIBLE), blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, it just doesn't work. There's no strategy behind this. This was an act on impulse by the president. It has no relationship to the ongoing investigation of Russia. There is no, in my opinion, belief that we are going to send a message.

WALLACE: OK, I want to switch quickly to another subject. The president escalated his fight this week with members of Congress. It's become a pretty long roll call. Let's put it up on the screen. Mitch McConnell, Bob Corker, John McCain, Flake, Speaker Ryan.

Josh, you have a dog in this fight, as the former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell. Is that the president separating himself and picking fights with all these members, Republican leaders, is that going to make it harder for him to pass and them to pass the agenda?

HOLMES: Yes, no question. There's a great piece in "The Washington Post" by Paul Cain (ph) this weekend that explores the presidential triangulation and it can be a very effective strategy at times. Where it's not an effective strategy is when your party runs Congress and you're before the midterms. Where it could lead is impeachment. And I think, look, it has one practical effect of attacking your own party. It drives down the overall approval of Congress, your leaders within and the generic ballot, meaning Republicans versus Democrat. Played out to its logical extension what it means is that Democrats have a heck of a lot better shot in the midterms than they probably would ordinarily and otherwise. And if Democrats take over the House, if this president believes the Democratic based it is not going to enforce impeachment proceedings, he hasn't been paying attention to what's happening.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about one other more immediate issue because one of the things that Washington must do in September is it's got to keep funding the government, which runs out of money on September 30th. The president had something interesting to say about that this week.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building a wall.


WALLACE: Catherine, what do your sources in the White House tell you? Is this president really prepared to force a government shutdown unless he gets funding for the wall?

CATHERINE LUCEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, Chris, I've been talking with Republican in and outside of this White House who are close to the White House and there is a sense that, you know, he is -- we shouldn't view this as a completely empty threat. This president is frustrated. He's frustrated he hasn't moved his agenda more. His base cares deeply about immigration. His base cares about the wall. I mean if you looked at the rally this week in Phoenix, people were chanting, build the wall, as they have been, you know, for over a year.

So, yes, the president given to (ph) colorful language but –

WALLACE: But let me ask you, what leverage does he have? Because he's going to need Democratic votes and Democrats are going to say, you want to shut down the government over the wall. We're not going to give you the wall ad you're going to own the shutdown.

LUCEY: He certainly doesn't have leverage over Democrats on the wall. But what I'm hearing is that he is going to continue to push on this. He wants to see something on the wall and that he's not backing down from a fight, even if it's with his own party.

WALLACE: All right, we need to take a break here, panel.

When we come back, the president launches a new effort in Afghanistan while North Korea launches a new provocation. We'll get our panel's reaction when we come right back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.


WALLACE: President Trump vowing to be unpredictable as he re-commits to fighting and winning the war in Afghanistan.

And we're back now with the panel.

Karl, you, of course, were in the White House 16 years ago when President Bush launched the war in Afghanistan. Did President Trump make the right decision in recommitting, and what do you think of the strategy that he laid out?

ROVE: Yes, I believe he did. There's no good decision on this. He took the best of the available options, which is to sustain the Afghan government and its military in this fight and to make a commitment to add additional U.S. troops to allow them to do this.

It's a big change from what President Obama did. President Obama was not conditions to the ground. He was an arbitrary deadline. And we were thankfully saved from having these so-called zero option exercise in 2012 by our NATO allies who convinced President Obama that just simply because he was up for election was not reason enough to withdraw U.S. and NATO troops.

Our only chance to keep Afghanistan for becoming once again a haven for international terrorism is to win this. And President Trump, I think, did the right thing on Monday night by recommitting America to the fight.

WALLACE: But, Juan, there are real questions about whether sending more troops -- and this first deployment, we're told, although the president won't announce it, is going to be 4,000 troops. Is that going to make any real difference in ending, winning, ending America's longest war?

WILLIAMS: I think if troop numbers were going to make any difference, you go back to '11. We had 100,000 troops on the ground. So I don't think adding 4,000 troops to the existing 8,000 or so that are on the ground is going to make any radical difference.

The key here it seems to me is that – what the president said, we have to have talks with the Taliban. What we heard from Rex Tillerson this morning in his interview with you, but also earlier, is that the Taliban is going to have victories on the battlefield. The U.S. is going to have victories. No one's going to win. We need to talk.

That's where the focus of this should be. But at the moment, with so many generals surrounding this president, I think the general have said, let's look for a military solution. And I think it plays into a lot of Republican memes about, oh, Obama pulled out too quickly. We want to make sure that we are there. Remember the good that came from the surge back in '06 when President Bush sent added forces into Iraq.

But that's really not what this is about. This should be about getting Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States, our allies to the table and find a settlement.

WALLACE: All right, I – there's more to talk about that and we'll have a chance. But I also want to talk about the other big news, because there was this latest salvo from North Korea where, on Friday night, they fired off three more missiles. Here's what Secretary of State Tillerson said about the Kim regime a few weeks ago.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime.


WALLACE: Catherine, does this president, doesn't this administration have a clear plan for how they intend to deal with the Kim regime?

LUCEY: You know, it's interesting looking at this latest missile attack, so far the response has been pretty muted. You saw this this morning from the secretary. He noted it was a provocative act. But, you know, then said they want to continue with this peaceful pressure. And it seems like, for now, you know, what I'm hearing is that there is interest in seeing how the new U.N. sanctions play out. Those unanimously approved sanctions were pretty tough that came earlier this month and that that seems to be, for the moment, with this latest – latest attack what they're looking at.

WALLACE: So all the talk a couple of weeks ago about fire and fury and locked and loaded, that's being dialed back by the administration?

LUCEY: Well, you saw that earlier this week. I mean the secretary, you know, praised him for restraint, you know, the president seemed more positive. So the way this – the most recent conflict played out, they seemed pretty satisfied with how that went. So, for now, this seems to be how they're looking at it.

WALLACE: But, Josh, and I gently pointed this out to the secretary of state, when they are talking about restraint and he respects us and then he fires off three missiles, they look a little silly, don't they?

HOLMES: Right. Well, a little bit. I mean I get – you get the impression by listening to the president and listening to the secretary of state over the last week that they were proceeding as if they're dealing with a rational actor here. Ad I think anybody who has seen the way that U.S. foreign policy has proceeded with North Korea over the last two decades, it's pretty clear that we're not dealing with a rational actor at all. And, in fact, the one thing that they crave more than anything is the attention of the American people.

And so I think, you know, to the extent that there has been a more muted response, as has been suggested here, is probably a pretty good thing. Every time they fire something off into the water next to the Korean Peninsula doesn't mean the American people need to rush out and note it. So I – you know, I can't fault them for their response to this.

WALLACE: Karl, the president likes to say that he inherited a message in North Korea and he -- when he talks about inheriting the mess, it's including from your fellow, Bush 43, in addition to Obama and Clinton. From your days in the White House, what lesson did you learn about dealing with this problem and with this regime?

ROVE: Well, I think they do crave attention, and so you don't want to give them attention unless it's necessary. I have to say, I think President Trump did the right thing when they were talking about launching missiles towards a U.S. territory, Guam, and that's when he made the fire and fury comment. And that's where Mattis said, you fire a missile at a U.S. territory, it is an act of war.

And what happened? The president's gambit worked. They dropped the plan to launch the missiles towards Guam and instead shot three intermediate range missiles and short-range missiles –

WALLACE: Short range missiles.

ROVE: Short range missiles off into the ocean. So – so -- who cares? And I think so. It was the right response when they were saying, we're threatening U.S. territory, right response today to say, we're not paying much attention to you shooting off short-range missiles and we knew you had the capacity to do so already.

WALLACE: Thank you, panel, on that hopeful note, See you next Sunday.

Up next, our "Power Player of the Week," a voice of her generation, better than mine, shows no signs of slowing down .


WALLACE: The music business is notoriously tough and fickle. Singers have one big hit and are never heard from again. Which is why, as we told you in May, it's so remarkable for someone to keep turning out classics for more than 50 years. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."


JUDY COLLINS, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I think a thing from childhood. I think of things from last week. I think of things from tomorrow. I'm in a kind of state of meditation.

WALLACE: Judy Collins is talking about what she thinks of when she sings a song, something she's done so memorably for more than half a century.

COLLINS (singing): You smell on time (ph) watching from a lonely wooden tower.

And all of a sudden you're in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. It was totally magical.

WALLACE: Collins exploded on the music scene in New York's Greenwich Village in 1961. It was the world of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

WALLACE (on camera): Was it the music that attracted your or was it the message?

COLLINS: Well, it was everything. It was creative. It was exciting. It was music. People were writing songs about every aspect of life.

WALLACE (voice over): It was a world where late one night Joni Mitchell sang her "Both Sides Now" over the phone.

WALLACE (on camera): And what did you think?

COLLINS: I said, I'll be right over! This is fantastic!

WALLACE: Is there a phrase like?

COLLINS (singing): Tears and fears and feeling proud to say I love you right out loud.

WALLACE: How would you choose what worked for you and what didn't?

COLLINS: If it hits me here, I sing it. If I – if that doesn't happen, I never want to hear it again.

WALLACE (voice over): In 1975 Collins heard another song by Stephen Sondheim.

COLLINS (singing): Isn't it rich, are we a pair, me here at last on the ground, you in midair.

I mean how could you not want to sing that song?

WALLACE: It won the Grammy for Song of the Year.

Collins made her mark in other ways, protesting for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. And, in addition to singing her own songs and others, her failing love affair with Stephen Stills inspired him to write the classic "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes."

STEPHEN STILLS, MUSICIAN (singing): I am yours. You are mine. You are what you are.

WALLACE (on camera): He was trying to win you back.

COLLINS: Yes, he was.

WALLACE: And did it work?

COLLINS: No. I said it's beautiful, but it's not going to get me back.

WALLACE: Since you asked –

WALLACE (voice over): Before we knew it, Collins was giving us a private concert. At age 78, she still does more than 100 performances a year.

COLLINS (singing): This is what I ask you for.

I love to sing. And the lights are on and the music is on and the sound is great and the band is great and I'm exactly where I should be, doing what I should be doing.

WALLACE: No plans to retire?

COLLINS: Oh, my God, it's not in my repertoire! You know, I think part of it is that I am an artist and artists don't retire.


WALLACE: This summer, Collins is on tour with that old boyfriend Stephen Stills, marking the first time they've shared the stage.

Now this program note. Stay tuned to this station and Fox News Channel for the latest on Hurricane Harvey's aftermath and that terrible flooding we told you about earlier.

That's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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