This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," January 28, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
President Trump gets set to announce his 2018 agenda in the State of the Union Address, while the Russia investigation closes in.
REPORTER: Did you want to fire Robert Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories.
WALLACE: The president pushes back from Davos, where he makes his case for
TRUMP: America is open for business and we are competitive once again. But America first does not mean America alone.
WALLACE: We'll get a preview of the president's plans for year two from White House director of legislative affairs, Marc Short.
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it actually. There's been no collusion whatsoever.
WALLACE: Will the president really sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller? We'll discuss that, the Republican secret memo about FBI misconduct, and those pro Clinton text messages with House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy, only on "Fox News Sunday."
Plus, President Trump offers to help the Dreamers. We'll ask our Sunday panel about the president's new immigration plan. Is it the basis for a compromise?
And our "Power Player of the Week." Paying back those in Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their lives to help U.S. troops.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Tuesday night, President Trump will lay out his vision for 2018 in his State of the Union Address. He will say his policies have created a stronger American economy and he will announce plans he thinks will boost growth even more.
Joining us now for a preview, Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs.
Marc, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Chris, thanks for having me back.
WALLACE: What is the major theme of the president's State of the Union Address Tuesday night? What's going to be the headline, what are the two or three major priorities?
SHORT: I think the president is going to talk about how America is back. He's going to talk about where we are today as far as growing an economy, an economy that now has grown at a 3 percent clip over the last three quarters. An economy that now has the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, an economy that has the lowest unemployment rate among African-Americans and Hispanic Americans, in the history of collecting data that's broken demographically that way.
I think he's going to talk about the fact that America is open for business. And the president is also going to make an appeal to Democrats, to make an appeal to say, we need to rebuild our country and to make an appeal that to do infrastructure, we need to do it in a bipartisan way. And he will also talk about American strength, the fact that we are continuing to wipe out ISIS, but that we have growing threats, such as North Korea.
And one of our concerns is that we have these dramatic threats on the global scene, yet where we are in Congress is we still can't even pass the spending bill that funds our military because Democrats are continuing to hold the military hostage to pursue other agenda. And he will ask that it's time that we rebuild our military to keep America strong.
WALLACE: I'm not saying that it's all his fault, but you talked about reaching out to Democrats and a push for bipartisanship. When he sends out tweets about Crying Chuck Schumer and he bashes Nancy Pelosi, is that the best way to do that?
SHORT: Well, look at just this week, Chris. I think that the president made an enormous appeal and showed enormous leadership in putting forward a plan to resolve the DACA situation, an issue that has plagued our country for decades. And yet, the outcry from Democrats, he went further than I think many people thought he would in providing not just permanent residents, but also pathway to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million of people that have been living in this country.
And yet so far, the Democrats have continued to cry that they don't want to solve the problem. We are anxious to solve the problem. The question is, do Democrats, will Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi show the same leadership and protect their constituency from their radical left-wing base or they could continue to play politics with this issue.
WALLACE: You know, let's drill down on immigration. It's actually the first question I was going to ask you about. Let's put up the president's framework that was announced this week. A path to citizenship as you said for 1.8 million people eligible for Dreamer status, $25 billion for a wall, limiting chain migration to nuclear families, in other words Dreamers can't sponsor their parents, and an end to the visa lottery.
The blowback was fierce from both sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: That plan is a campaign to make America white again.
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: You may be able to roll over the never Trumpers, but if you continue down this line, former Trumper is going to be a much more difficult category for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I mean, and you've got to admit it, it wasn't just backlash from Democrats. There was also backlash from conservative hardliners. What makes you think you can get a deal through Congress on all of this? It's a big ambitious plan, before the DACA deadline expires in March, or do you think because the court has blocked the rescission of DACA, that you have more time than just March?
SHORT: Well, Chris, I've heard a lot of outrage over former Speaker Pelosi's comments when she makes racist allegation like that. I've heard a lot of members even in moderate Democrats say that that was over the top.
The reality is what the president has done is he's met with dozens -- hosted dozens of meetings at the White House, some with Republicans, some Democrats, some bipartisan. Some just House, some just Senate, some bicameral. A lot of rational compromise plan that I think is something Democrats ask for.
We started by saying we want to protect the 690,000 people who have permits under DACA, meaning people age 16 to 36, who have work permits who are in this country, producing, contributing to our economy. We, of course, want to protect them. We don't want to send them away.
But Democrats said that population should be larger. We should consider those who are eligible but were afraid to apply. We should also go back to 2012, which is when Obama put in place his unconstitutional order.
The president did all of those things because he saying it's time that we fix the other issues too. Americans want to keep our border secure, end chain migration and the visa lottery program.
WALLACE: Do you think you can get a deal by March or do you think because of the court action that you have actually more time than March 5th?
SHORT: Chris, we're anxious to get a deal. We've been trying to get a deal. I think that question really belongs to the Democrats in Congress. We believe that right now, you're right, the courts have said that the March 5th is not there, but if another court overrules, they are not going to have the six-month grace period that this president offered Congress to fix it. If the courts overrule, that program will end immediately.
WALLACE: But as I pointed out, it isn't -- and you are quite right, there is backlash from Democrats. There's also backlash from Republicans and one of the biggest issues is something that the president said this week, take a look.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: Whatever they're doing, if they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become citizens.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: But when President Obama issued his executive order in 2012, he did not give Dreamers a path to citizenship. He simply said they could renew their status. In a sense -- and this is what some conservatives are saying -- isn't what you are offering, the president offering, isn't it more lenient? Isn't it softer in terms of what it gives Dreamers that what President Obama was willing to do?
SHORT: Two points. One is that we feel that is certainly worth it if we can help to fix this problem once and for all, which is the other parts of the proposal the president has forward. But second, in that meeting that you televised, at the White House, when the president had 20 members of Congress over, he said, I will provide cover from our side on this issue. The question is, are Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi going to provide cover for their members from the radical left-leaning base? So far, they are not showing the same leadership, Chris.
WALLACE: So, you think you can get conservatives who may not like the idea of citizenship to go along?
SHORT: So far, we've had positive reinforcements from Senator David Perdue, Senator Tom Cotton. These are not exactly doves on the immigration -- on the issue of immigration. They are pretty hawkish on it. I think conservatives recognize the benefit to really securing our border and helping to fix these long term problems.
So, yes, I think we're going to get widespread support on our side. The question is politically -- it's not a policy issue, Chris. Policy -- this policy flatly -- polls, 70 percent of American supported. When you say that you are going to secure the border, end chain migration and the visa lottery and provide this pathway and fix it, 70 percent of Americans agree.
It's not a policy issue. It's a politics question.
WALLACE: The president will also push his infrastructure plan on Thursday night. And here is the outline of that, $200 billion in federal money to leverage at least $1.5 trillion in state and local and private investment.
Here's the problem, infrastructure has traditionally been an 80/20 split, 80 percent federal money, 20 percent state and local and private money. But what you are proposing is a 20/80 split, 20 percent federal money, 80 percent from other sources. Why is that going to work?
SHORT: We think it's going to work for several reasons. I think there's a growing some consensus that the infrastructure needs to be fixed. It's part of the central parts of the president's campaign and we think that there is bipartisan support for it. There's no doubt that I think Democrats in Congress will want more federal dollars for that issue.
But we also have to recognize, Chris, that we have a significant debt problem in our country. And so, this can't just be all federal largess that pays for this. So, a partnership is what makes sense.
The other thing that the administration has pledged to do is continue to roll back the regulatory constraints that I think has also limited some of the private investment. When you do that, they'll be additional private investment coming in to make these projects real.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because there was a report this weekend that the White House wants to scale back, when you say regulations, environmental regulations, and critics say the effect is that in order to get these projects going, you would gut the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
SHORT: The administration has no plans to gut the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act, Chris. But what you've seen really over the last year is by rolling back the burdensome regulations the previous administration had put in place, the economy has taken off. That's what we want to make sure that our economy continues to grow.
When you see 3 percent growth over the last three quarters and compare that to eight years of 1.8 percent growth in the Obama years, much of that has been because of rolling back the regulatory burden and allowing the free enterprise system to begin to work again.
WALLACE: For all of your plans for 2018, for all of the victory lap the president is going to take for the economy and what was accomplished in 2017, I think it's fair to say that there is a cloud that continues to hang over this White House, and that's the Russian investigation.
Direct question, did President Trump want to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last summer?
SHORT: I'm not aware of the president ever intimating that he wanted to fire Robert Mueller. Let's keep in mind a couple things. Robert Mueller is still the special counsel. Don McGahn is still head of White House counsel office. Taxpayers have spent millions and millions of dollars on investigations that have not proven any collusion thus far with Russia.
The White House continues to cooperate in every manner providing any document that the special counsel has asked for. So, we have continued to comply fully. Robert Mueller is still the special counsel. I'm not familiar in any conversation I've had with the president ever intimating he wanted to fire Robert Mueller.
WALLACE: Would the White House object if Congress decided on his own to pass a bill to protect the status of the special counsel, to make it harder or impossible to fire him? Is that something the president would sign?
SHORT: I don't know, hypothetically, Chris.
WALLACE: The president responded this week to reports that the special counsel is investigating him on the issue of obstruction of justice. Here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: There's no collusion. Now they're saying, oh, well, did he fight back? Fight back, Jon, fight back, oh, it's obstruction.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
WALLACE: What does the president think the difference is between obstruction and fighting back?
SHORT: Honestly, Chris, I don't know. Unfortunately, I'm not often involved in those conversations regarding that investigation. But I know that the president has been frustrated by this investigation. He feels like there's been millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars spent and no evidence yet of collusion.
I think he also recognizes that, you know, I think it's been underreported, is that the day before he accepted a position of special counsel, Robert Mueller interviewed to be FBI director and never mentioned that to the president. So, I'm sure there's concern that here was -- obviously, he was going to be named special counsel. He came in to be interviewed to be FBI director and never mention the con -- potential conflict there.
WALLACE: Finally, let's look at this from the other side because some top Republicans in Congress talked about bias and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and the Justice Department in their investigation both of Hillary Clinton and of Donald Trump. One, does the president believe that's true, that there has been abuse, that there has been bias in the investigations, and two, as The Washington Post reports today, does he want to see that four-page memo to that effect coming out of the House Intelligence Committee, does he want to see that release to the public?
SHORT: Well, one, we don't know what's in the memo. It's classified, I haven't seen it. But I think the president generally is on the side of transparency.
And so, yes, I think he believes that that should be put out. But on the first question, I think that where we stand is that -- again, there has been significant investigation so far and no evidence of any sort of collusion.
WALLACE: When he hears things like the text between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, does that concern (ph) --
SHORT: Sure. Of course, that frustrates him. I think something else that he's continually mentioned is the fact that McCabe's wife received $700,000 in political contributions from one of the Clinton's close personal friends in Terry McAuliffe, and yet was leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton. So, yes, I think he's concerned about several appearances of conflict of interest there.
At the same time, he is going down to the FBI Academy in Quantico and spoke into the agents and talks about how much he appreciates their work in their efforts. But, yes, I'm sure he's very concerned about some of the appearances of conflict of interest at the very top of the agency in the last administration.
WALLACE: I just want to button up one question about the release of the memo, because the assistant attorney general sent a note to the special -- to the House Intelligence Committee saying it would be, quote, extraordinarily reckless to release that memo because it may reveal sources and methods. Is that a concern of the president?
SHORT: Well, sure. I think we have to have -- those are rational concerns. But at the same time, I think the president is more inclined for transparency in this investigation. And so, to the extent that the House I think has advocated that it's publicly (ph) released, I think the president is receptive to that.
WALLACE: Marc, thank you. Thanks for your time this week, and always good to talk with you. And we'll all be watching the president's speech on Tuesday.
SHORT: Great. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.
WALLACE: Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to take a closer look at the president's agenda.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the Trump plan to trade citizenship for Dreamers for tough new measures on legal and illegal immigration? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America. I'm here to deliver a simple message. There has never been a better term to higher, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week, telling leaders America is open for business.
And 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 former Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
Well, Catherine, you were on the Davos trip with the president. How was he received there and how much are they counting on the strong economic recovery, the good numbers from 2017 continuing to 2018 to help Republicans in the 2018 midterms?
CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yes. So, the big question going into the trip was the American first president versus the Davos globalist, and he was quite cordially received. He had a reception, he held a dinner business leaders. The speech got, you know, a polite response.
And the president clearly was there to bring his economic message, as he said and kind of take a victory lap. He talked about the booming economy. He talked about tax cut. He talked about regulation changes. And I think this clearly going to be part of his pitch on Tuesday in the State of the Union and something Republicans are going to try to emphasize, you know, over the coming months.
WALLACE: Karl, let's pick up on that. When you hear what we just heard from Marc Short about what the president is going to say in his State of the Union speech, that he's going to take a victory lap for a strong economic numbers, he's going to talk about infrastructure and creating jobs, he's going to talk about immigration reform, how strong a message for this year and how strong a message for Republicans to run on in November?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, it depends on how much he says and what he says on Tuesday night, but it also depends on what he does in the months following that. First of all, I think he's got to be very careful about it, appearing to be too self-congratulatory. This is a moment to compliment the American people and to compliment the Congress for their cooperation with him on tax reform and regulatory relief.
But this is a moment where he can reset, but the reset depends upon him following through in the weeks and months ahead. He needs to make the case and the case can be made that people are going to feel this tax cut. They are beginning to in their own lives.
But in February when the withholding tables kick in and everybody gets a bigger paycheck, that's going to be the moment where he needs to be driving home not only is it affecting you in that way, but it's affecting you in the money that's being pumped into the American money by American businesses to build new plants and equipment, to refurbish their stores, to create and build and buy new things that are going to require at the end of the line and somebody in the factory, somebody in a farm, somebody in a ranch to create whatever it is they need.
WALLACE: So, I'm saying (ph), the key isn't how it's going to go on Tuesday night, it's how he's going to do on Wednesday and Thursday.
WALLACE: But he did great in his speech to Congress last February but then he got back into tweets and needless arguments right afterwards.
ROVE: And, look, this is also a moment of optimism. Look, people are starting to feel optimistic about the economy. This is the moment to strike that note of optimism that he missed in his inaugural address when he talked about that dark and gloomy place called America.
WALLACE: Your boss didn't like that, Bush 43.
We ask you for questions for the panel, and we got this on Facebook from Al Drennan on the president's new framework for immigration. Al writes: It seems as though the president is going against many in his own party to extend the olive branch to appease Democrats and strike a deal. How is it possible for all Democrats in the House and Senate to not be jumping all over this proposal?
Congressman Chaffetz, how do you answer Al and the concern from some conservatives that the president is giving away too much to the Dreamers when he gives them a path to citizenship, which is, again, more than Barack Obama did?
JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes, viva, Trump. I mean, I think a lot of people are very surprised, particularly in conservative circles, that he added a component that allows that pathway to citizenship. I don't like that component but it really puts the Democrats in a box.
And for Nancy Pelosi to go out and try to claim that this is some sort of racist plan, I -- I don't know that the Democrats can actually say yes to anything. And this is something they are really going to have to contemplate. And when you have people like Senator Perdue as Marc Short pointed out, and you have Senator Cotton in particular saying this is a good solid framework --
WALLACE: Yes, we just pointed out, two Republican really strong hardliners on immigration issues.
CHAFFETZ: Yes. No, it puts the ball squarely back in the Democrats' court and we will see if they can pass it out of the Senate. I don't know that I can pass in the House quite as smoothly, but if all the Democrats get behind it in the House that I think there are enough in the House on the Republican side of the aisle that they could actually pass this.
WALLACE: On the other hand, you talk about the Democrats, they are saying that the president is caving to the right wing of his party. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The White House, unfortunately, has proven unreliable and wildly unpredictable. Within the course of hours, they say different things. Every time the president moves forward on one thing, his staff pulls him back and undoes what he says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Juan, isn't citizenship for 2 million, not only Dreamers but people eligible for Dreamer status who hadn't signed up yet, isn't that a huge concession?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that would be terrific. I mean, the first point to say is, it's run into position as you pointed out your interview with Marc Short, from people like Ted Cruz, the senator who is hardliner, said, gosh, DACA didn't have a pathway to citizenship. Then you have right wing media like Breitbart calling the president "Amnesty Don". Heritage saying this is a nonstarter.
Why are they saying this, Chris? Because in addition to providing a pathway, he goes after legal immigration, severe cuts in terms of legal immigration, attacks the idea of a diversity lottery, says that wrong. So, therefore, he's also opposed to family reunification which had been the premise for our immigration policies in the past.
And when you think about this, this is not comprehensive reform. This is not dealing with the 11 million that are already here. So, this is the president's presentation at a moment when the Democrats are saying $25 billion, you just got a huge tax cut, now, you want to $25 billion for a wall that essentially is symbolic --
WALLACE: So, are using the Democrats -- I mean, on the other hand, 2 million people in this country illegally, even the Dreamers, as sympathetic as they are, are in the country illegally, you are saying Democrats shouldn't jump on this deal?
WILLIAMS: I don't -- why would you jump? Look, the president set a phony deadline, this March thing. He's the one that try to undo DACA and he said, this is going to be a bargaining chip. In exchange for this, I'm going to demand concessions. I want my wall.
OK. The Democrats are willing to give added money for security on the border. The thing is are you willing to give $25 billion, are you willing not to address comprehensive immigration? Meanwhile, the real pressure and the president has said this, he's going to have to take heat from his right, from the conservative media, from Heritage from the Freedom Caucus in the House. Will Paul Ryan even call this?
WALLACE: Congressman --
WILLIAMS: Because I think to your point, Paul Ryan called that he has enough votes from Democrats to get it passed.
CHAFFETZ: They could potentially get it passed, but the reason I think the Democrats are fighting so hard against the wall is the wall will actually work. And –
WILLIAMS: We are at a 45-year low in terms of crossings, Congressman.
CHAFFETZ: Yes, and we've got still a long ways to go. And I -- there is no way that you can give the pathway to citizenship to dreamers if you don't also solve the nightmare that is down on the border. And to secure and locked down that border is a fair compromise.
WILLIAMS: I think we have --
CHAFFETZ: I don't like the amnesty part. I don't know that I could vote for that.
WILLIAMS: Well, that's the real issue here. Will Paul Ryan --
WALLACE: Well, there's two issues. There is the right wing of the Republican Party, there is also the left wing of the Democratic Party.
Let me just for a final word go to you, Karl, because you broke your lamps (ph) on immigration reform in the Bush 43 White House. Do they get a deal by March 5th or not?
ROVE: Well, first of all, they don't need to because the court, as you pointed out in your interview with Marc Short, has basically put this all on hold. But could they get a deal by March? Yes.
This is a good opening framework. And let's be clear about it. The president has gone a long way with giving a path to citizenship to the Dreamers.
But it's already being distorted on the other side. This is not $25 billion for a wall, it's $25 billion for a wall, additional agents, technology and infrastructure along the border. It's not just a wall. It's all these other kind of things that had been talked about in order to secure the border.
Yes, crossings are down, but we still don't have secure control of our border.
One thing that Juan touched on that was absolutely right, the Democrats, particularly the Congressional Black Caucus are going to fight hard to defend the diversity lottery because lotteries are weird, but diversity means we draw people from countries that don't normally flow in to the normal immigration flow, largely African countries.
WALLACE: Yes or no, they're going to get a deal or not?
ROVE: I -- you know, I think this all depends upon the goodwill of people on both sides. The president doesn't help by tweeting about Schumer, but Schumer doesn't help by going to the floor and Nancy Pelosi's comment was so over-the-top, I'm for immigration reform. I am in favor of robust immigration, but everybody who is adult ought to start acting like an adult in this conversation.
WALLACE: Well, that sounds like a definite no to me.
WALLACE: Goodwill -- if we are depending on goodwill, we are in real trouble.
Panel, I'll have to take a break here. We'll see you a little later.
Up next, President Trump dismisses reports he wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. And has the FBI tried to protect Hillary Clinton and get Donald Trump?
House Oversight Committee Trey Gowdy joins us next.
WALLACE: Coming up, has the FBI been against Donald Trump even before he became president?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: I saw today, it was a text about not keeping texts. We saw more manifest bias against President Trump, all the way through the election and to the transition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We'll ask House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy about alleged abuses, next.
WALLACE: There have been two competing narratives in the Russia probe this week. First, that President Trump is getting closer to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller amid reports he wanted to fire Mueller last summer. And, second, that the FBI has been biased all along for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.
Joining me now from Greenville, South Carolina, Congressman Trey Gowdy, House Oversight chair and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, we'll get to your concerns about the FBI and the Department of Justice in a moment. But -- but let me begin first with this. Do you still trust, after all you've heard, do you still trust Special Counsel Robert Mueller to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation?
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-SC, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: One hundred percent, particularly if he's given the time, the resources and the independence to do his job. Chris, he didn't apply for the job. He's where he is because we have an attorney general who had to recuse himself. So Mueller didn't raise his hand and say, hey, pick me. We, as a country, asked him to do this.
And, by the way, he's got two -- there are two components to his jurisdiction. There is a criminal component. But there's also a counterintelligence component that no one ever talks about because it's not sexy and interesting. But he's also going to tell us definitively what Russia tried to do in 2016. So the last time you and I were together, I told my Republican colleagues, leave him the hell alone, and that's still my advice.
WALLACE: President Trump said this week that he wants to sit down with Mueller and conduct an interview. Here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
QUESTION: Do you have a day set?
TRUMP: I don't know. No, I guess they're talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it.
TRUMP: You know, again, it's -- I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: As a practical matter, does the president have any choice, doesn't he really, in effect, have to sit down with a special counsel for an interview? And let me ask you this, as a former federal prosecutor, when he does that interview, how dangerous is that legally for the president?
GOWDY: Well, I don't know what he's going to say. And I don't know what he knows. So I can't address how dangerous it is. If there's no collusion and if there's no obstruction of justice, there's not much danger.
There are two aspects to this, Chris. There's the legal aspect. And the former prosecutor in me wants him to testify because he is uniquely well situated to answer certain questions. The conversations between he and Comey, there are only two people in those conversations. We've already heard Director Comey's side of it. If there's another side, we need to hear it. That's the legal part. So I wanted him to testify from a legal standpoint.
But let's don't kid ourselves. There is a political component to it. Twice now, over 50 of my House Democratic colleagues have voted to move forward with impeachment. Twice, before he's answered a single, solitary question from Bob Mueller. Over 50 twice and said he should be impeached, and that's without answering a single question.
Adam Schiff, who's the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, said he had evidence of collusion before we even began the investigation. So the politics of it is, I don't think he's got a fair jury. I do think he has a fair investigator. I think he's got a fair prosecutor in Bob Mueller, but he doesn't have a fair jury and he's going to have to decide whether the legal part outweighs the political part.
WALLACE: The House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote this week on whether to release that four-page memo that you had a big hand in writing that alleges abuse and bias inside the FBI and the Justice Department. As I discussed with Marc Short, The Washington Post reports today the president wants to have the memo released. Do you agree with that?
GOWDY: I do. I'm sorry that we're to this point.
This memo is nothing but a -- a -- the distilling, the reducing of thousands of pages of documents provided to us by the department and the bureau. So there's nothing in this memo that the department is not already aware of.
If you think your viewers want to know whether or not the dossier was used in court proceedings, whether or not it was vetted before it was used, whether or not it's ever been vetted. If you are interested in who paid for the dossier. If you're interested in Christopher Steele's relationship with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, then, yes, you'll want the memo to come out.
If you're Adam Schiff, who is consistently wrong when it comes to issues of disclosure -- he didn't want us to find out any of this information, Chris. He -- he fought. In fact, GPS went to court -- Fusion GPS went to court to keep us from finding out that the Democrats paid for the dossier. So if you're Adam Schiff, of course you don't want the information to come out. You didn't want us to find it in the first place.
This memo answers what I think are really legitimate questions and I do think the FBI should look at it before -- before it is released. And I have provided that counsel to Chairman Nunes. And I think that he has taken that under advisement.
So I want to play face-off poker. I want the bureau to know everything that's in the memo. I think you'll be surprised. It is not a hit piece on the department and the FBI. I would not have participated in it if that's what it was.
WALLACE: But let me -- let me -- let me pick up on this because the reports are, and you kind of indicated that in your answer, that the memo centers on this question of the FISA application, the Department of Justice FBI application in 2016 for a warrant to conduct electronic surveillance against this fellow, then Trump campaign manager Carter Page. Your complaint, according to reports, is that you say that when they made that application, they didn't talk about the role of the Russia dossier and especially the fact that it was opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign.
The Democrats, and, yes, Adam Schiff is leading a charge, say you're cherry picking the information. One, that -- that the FISA warrant on Carter Page is not as central as you're making it. And, two, that there was a lot more in the application than just the dossier, that the FBI did not rely just on the dossier to get the warrant.
GOWDY: Well, I can't even confirm for you that there is a FISA warrant and I can't confirm for you who it's on because that is classified and I'm not going to disseminate classified information. I will just ask you again, are you interested in whether or not the world's premier law enforcement agency relied on a work product produced, paid for by the Democratic National Committee? Are you interested in whether or not all --
WALLACE: But -- but -- but I guess the question -- the question I'm just asking is this, sir. And -- and, yes, I can understand you're not going to confirm it, but we're talking about the FISA warrant of Carter Page. Did they rely just on the dossier or did they rely on a lot of other material?
GOWDY: Well, for me to answer the question is confirmation that there is one.
I will -- let me ask you this, Chris. If they relied on it half, is that significant enough for the American people to know? If they're relied on it at all, do you want to know that? If you're the judge, do you want to know if a third of what you're providing to the court was paid for by a political opponent?
So whether they -- whether it was relied upon 80 percent or 20 percent, do you want to know that the Democratic National Committee paid for material that was never vetted, that was included in the court proceeding? Do you want to know whether or not the primary source in these court proceedings had a bias against one candidate? Do you want to know whether or not he said he'd do anything to keep that candidate from becoming elected president?
WALLACE: I want to -- I want to -- I want to -- and I don't mean to interrupt, sir, but I've got two more questions I want to get to and we're running out of time, because I want to address those texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, who were two key figures in both the Clinton and Trump investigations.
In February of 2016, during the Clinton e-mail probe, Page sends this text. One more thing, she, Clinton, might be our next president. The last thing you need, us going in there loaded for bear. You think she's going to remember or care that it was more DOJ, Department of Justice, than FBI?
Strzok responds, agreed. I called Bill and relayed what we discussed. He agrees. I will e-mail you and redacted same.
The real question I have is that -- there's no question that is a deeply troubling, political bias expressed by two FBI officials. I guess the question I have is, did Strzok and Page have the power to protect Clinton on the one hand and to get Trump on the other?
GOWDY: Well, they -- they -- did they have the power to protect her? The decision not to charger her was made before she was ever interviewed. How would you like that deal, Chris? I mean how -- how would you like to go --
WALLACE: No, I'd like that deal.
WALLACE: But I guess the question is, was that just Peter Strzok or was that a lot of other people who weren't party to these clearly biased and outrageous texts?
GOWDY: Well, I think what you'll see, and-- and one reason the Judiciary Committee and Oversight is investigating is, there was tension between the Department of Justice and the FBI. But Peter Struck was the lead investigator. That's who interviewed Hillary Clinton.
So these same two people, whose bias was so insidious that Bob Mueller fired them the second he found out about it, there bias existed the entire time. These same two people who were so biased they should be kicked to the curb immediately were the ones interviewing Hillary Clinton, editing the memo to take out references to President Obama, editing the memo to take out the reference to grossly negligent. So I --
GOWDY: No, I can't prove to you that they were the final decision makers, nor do I have to. What I have to prove to you is, two really important people hated him, would have done anything to protect her and thank God Michael Horowitz found out about them while they were investigating the president.
WALLACE: I want to ask you one last question. We're running out of time here. There's clearly some troubling evidence and clearly the Strzok-Page memos are deeply troubling. And, you know, go to it and investigating that.
There are -- also have been some issues of potential hype by Republicans. And I want to give you an example. This week, Senator Ron Johnson brought up the issue of a secret society inside the Justice Department. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON JOHNSON, R-WISCONSIN SENATOR: What this is all about is further evidence of corruption, more than bias, but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI in that secret society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But then we saw the only text on this that Page wrote to Strzok the day after the election, are you even going to give out your calendars? He had apparently bought Russian calendars as a gag. It seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society, which led to this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: This text message seems to be -- the comment about secret society was in jest. Do you agree that it appears to be in was in jest?
JOHNSON: It's a real possibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Question, congressman, final question, I'm going to have to ask you to answer briefly, don't Republicans hurt their credibility on real issues of bias when they make such a big deal about secret societies and palace coups?
GOWDY: Yes. Republicans are the best I've ever seen at taking good facts and overstating them and therefore changing the narrative.
I don't know what they meant by secret society. I didn't use the phrase. It is fair to ask them.
But if it were a joke, Chris, then was it also a joke to mention the insurance policy? Was it also a joke to talk about impeachment the morning after President Trump won? Was it also a joke to say, I have no interest in participating in an investigation if he's going to be cleared.
There's a pattern. And Republicans are better served by letting the texts speak for themselves. I have no idea what they meant by that. I don't know if it was a joke or not. It's not my job to figure it out.
These two witnesses need to come in and tell us what they meant by it and everything else they said over the course of 18 months. Republicans would be well served, let the texts speak for themselves. Let the jury make up their mind and quit engaging in hyperbole, which we seem to do a lot.
WALLACE: And we look forward to the investigation continuing. There are a lot of legitimate issues here.
Congressman Gowdy, thank you. Thanks for sharing your weekend with us. We'll follow all the developments this weekend and in the future.
GOWDY: Yes, sir. Thank you.
WALLACE: Coming up, the special counsel gets closer to an interview with the president, while questions grow about bias inside the FBI. The panel returns next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-NC, FREEDOM CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: I am shocked to read exactly what has taken place. I would think that it would never happen in a country that loves freedom and democracy like this country.
CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Conspiracy theories with virtually no fact, paranoia, delusion. Why? Are they afraid of the truth of the Mueller investigation?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at odds over allegations of bias inside the FBI and the Justice Department.
And we're back now with the panel.
Well, congressman, you were the former head of the committee that Trey Gowdy now chairs. How convinced are you that there was bias inside both the Clinton and the Trump investigations?
CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: Well, based on the surface, what we've seen so far, there is clearly bias. But, remember, they Hillary Clinton investigation is a closed investigation. We should be looking at that. That's what we do as a country. We are self-critical. We do go after these things.
I think the most definitive report, though, will be what Michael Horowitz, the inspector general for the Department of Justice, that report will probably come out of the next 60 days. An Obama appointee with 450 employees. I think when he comes and testifies before the Oversight Committee, that will be the most definitive word.
WALLACE: Juan, you have to admit that some of the Strzok, Page texts that we've been reading over the last few weeks are troubling, especially when Peter Strzok was the lead FBI investigator, both in the Clinton case and in the Trump case.
WILLIAMS: Come on, Chris, they -- people have personal opinions. You and I have personal opinions. I think we come out here and try to do an honest job.
WALLACE: Wait, wait, you're not at all troubled by those texts?
WILLIAMS: Well, first of all -- no, be -- remember, they're lovers. So this is like pillow talk between two people who have personal opinions. I don't know that it has impacted their capacity to lead at investigation.
What I see here is a repeated effort coming from the right. They throw spitballs at the wall trying to somehow disparage the FBI, discredit Robert Mueller. Don't forget, they're --
WALLACE: How -- how about when Peter Strzok --
WILLIAMS: Trump -- Trump not only tried --
WALLACE: How about when Peter Strzok --
WILLIAMS: Has fired Comey --
WALLACE: Well, wait --
WILLIAMS: Gone after these people.
WALLACE: OK, I'm not talking about that. How about when Peter --
WILLIAMS: Now, this week, he's trying to fire Mueller.
WALLACE: How about when Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are saying, well, let's not go into that Clinton investigation loaded for bear.
WILLIAMS: Well, wait a second, they're talking. It's like you and me joking saying, hey, Chris, President Trump, we wish, would come on -- and on this show and then --
WALLACE: I'm not joking, I'm serious.
WILLIAMS: I know. I know. But I'm saying we wish. But I'm saying -- and I say, Chris, well, you know what, if you want him to come back, maybe we shouldn't ravage him this time. That's a joke between Juan and Chris. That's not an indication of how you're actually going to conduct the interview.
But this is, again, discredit the FBI because they're worried that Mueller, in fact, it's going to find something. That's what's going on --
CHAFFETZ: He started to draft the memo before they'd interviewed 16 people.
WILLIAMS: There was no basis at that point to charge her. So they go into the interview and they say, well, this is what we know at this point. But you guys want to make it into some paranoid -- I mean I got to --
CHAFFETZ: Trey Gowdy was crystal clear about his feelings.
WALLACE: All right.
ROVE: If those e-mails had been referencing defending Donald Trump in the same way that they were defending Hillary Clinton, if the roles were reversed, Juan would be rational and reasonable and understanding exactly what is at play here.
Look, Robert Mueller let -- the test of this is, the day that Robert Mueller found out about these e-mails and read them, he fired Strzok. He did --
ROVE: He couldn't -- he couldn't fire him from the FBI, but he could demote him and sent him to human resources to end his career. That's how bad this was.
Now, I don't think it's the FBI, but I do think two bad actors in this -- and I agree with the congressman, when Horowitz's report comes out --
WALLACE: And, again, this is the inspector general.
ROVE: The inspector general.
WALLACE: An independent person in the Justice Department.
ROVE: Independent general -- independent official with the -- with powers to subpoena and powers to observe and interrogate and we're going to be, as a nation, shocked at the behavior of these two individuals, not the FBI, let's be clear about that, but these two individuals.
WALLACE: Catherine, meanwhile, the president, in comments just before he went to Davos, left the door wide open to sitting down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. How upset were his lawyers that he gave away a lot of negotiating power. And in the end, though, do they really think they have any choice that he's going to just both politically and legally have to sit down and -- and talk to the special counsel?
LUCEY: Well, certainly the White House tried to walk it back a little bit after he said he'd love to do this. But, yes, he -- he could refuse a voluntary interview. That's something he could do. But, ultimately, to your point, Mueller has subpoena power, so he could use that.
WALLACE: And --
LUCEY: And --
WALLACE: And, we should point out, if he subpoena's him --
LUCEY: Then he --
WALLACE: Then he testifies before the grand jury --
LUCEY: Absolutely and --
WALLACE: And he doesn't have lawyers alongside of him.
LUCEY: And -- and could prompt, you know, a legal fight, which seems not helpful.
So, yes, I think what we're looking at right now is the president has made his intentions quite clear. What's not clear is what the scope of his questioning might be, what the setting will be, how exactly this might come together.
WALLACE: Congressman Chaffetz, how much legal jeopardy for the president when he sits down in this interview, given the fact that he has told different stories about why he fired Comey, questions about, you know, when -- when he kicked everybody else out of the room, did he tell him to go easy on Mike Flynn or not? I mean it would strike me --
CHAFFETZ: Look --
WALLACE: This is kind of tension city.
CHAFFETZ: Well, it's fraught with peril, but you don't know exactly what the president's going to say or what sort of evidence they might present to him that may be a year or two old. But I think his temperament is such that, yes, bring it on. He's been very definitive that there was no collusion. And I think he'll stand by that.
WILLIAMS: I just worry that he -- you know, this week it came out that he's asking his deputy FBI director who'd you vote for? And it also comes out this week that we have been misled as an American people about his interest in firing Mueller almost a year ago. I think this guy thinks there's something to hide. That's what he's trying to obstruct this investigation.
CHAFFETZ: Democrats take -- took that point before he was even sworn in. They got to pick their battles. They scream about everything. And I don't think they have a case with this.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday. To be continued.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." How one American soldier kept his promise to the combat translator who saved his life.
WALLACE: We're still arguing about the texts.
During our long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've heard a lot about the bonds among American soldiers. But there's another special bond between U.S. forces and their local combat translators. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."
MATT ZELLER, CO-FOUNDER, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today if it hadn't been for my Afghan translator.
WALLACE (voice over): In 2008, Matt Zeller was on his fourth day serving in Afghanistan when he was knocked out by a Taliban mortar. As he came to, an Afghan translator rushed to his rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I focused, there were two Taliban crawling in the bushes.
ZELLER: He decided at that moment to run across the battlefield, knock me down and shoot them at the same time, killing them instantly and saving my life.
WALLACE: Zeller promised Janis Shinwari he would help if the translator ever wanted to come to the U.S. Months later, Shinwari called.
JANIS SHINWARI, CO-FOUNDER, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: I found out that my name was added to the Taliban kill list and they were trying to hunt me down or one of my member family.
ZELLER: And I said, sure, thinking it might take six months, maybe a year at the most. And it ended up taking four years.
WALLACE: Out of that experience, Zeller started No One Left Behind. A group devoted to saving Afghan and Iraqi translators who have risked their lives protecting American soldiers.
ZELLER: If we don't keep that promise, that prevailing narrative around the world I feel will be that the U.S. will simply abandon you if you choose to partner with us.
WALLACE: Started in 2013, NOLB first helps translators and their families get special immigration visas. Going through a rigorous background check.
ZELLER: The average time it takes to get through the security screening is three and a half years.
WALLACE: Once they arrive, the group, which now has chapters in ten cities, meets them at the airport, finds them housing, and helps them get a job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much for your donation.
WALLACE: AJ was a translator for American forces in Afghanistan for nine years, including a visit by then Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He talks about how helpless you feel coming to a strange country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no one to help them, no one to welcome them and they don't know what to do. Everything in the country is different.
WALLACE: Starbucks and Lyft (ph) partner with NOLB. Four years later, Shinwari has a steady job and owns his home. Since 2013, Zeller's group has helped 5,000 translators and family members come to the U.S., but he says more than 50,000 more are trapped.
WALLACE (on camera): For those folks that are still waiting in Afghanistan and Iraq, is this a matter of life and death?
ZELLER: This is absolutely a matter of life and death. If we don't keep this promise, the people that we ask them to help us fight against going to murder them.
WALLACE (voice over): Zeller says whether we keep faith with combat translators will send a message, will this country protect or abandon people who help us in future conflicts?
ZELLER: If Janis had not believed that we would have kept our promise, he wouldn't have served with us and I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today. I've got PTS and as far as I'm concerned, helping my brother come home and start his new life in America was the most healing thing I've ever done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, brother.
WALLACE: To learn more about Zeller's group, No One Left Behind, please go to our website, foxnewssunday.com.
Now, this program note. Be sure to tune to your local Fox station Tuesday night for President Trump's State of the Union Address, anchored by Shepherd Smith. And I'll see you on Fox News Channel for special coverage with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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