President Trump continues to dismantle the Obama legacy

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 13, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


THEN-PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Millions of people will get tax breaks to help them avoid coverage, which represents the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One by one, it's going to come down and we are going to have great health care in our country.

OBAMA: There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.

TRUMP: We will put our miners back to work.

OBAMA: Nuclear deal implemented.

TRUMP: I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, this is a rollback of Obama legacy items, the clean power care, the Obamacare subsidies, the Iran nuclear deal. What it all means in the big picture. Just moments ago, actually within the past hour, the defense secretary stopped by and talked to some reporters including our own Pentagon team about the implications worldwide of this Iran deal.


DEFENSE SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS: If I had gotten some word like that, I surely would have asked a meeting to go back over and say whether or not I thought it was a good idea, or at OBM, I need some more money. There is nothing that happened. When you are told to do something we execute, OK? So there would've been something that happened after we received the discussion like that. There was nothing like that.


BAIER: That's actually a different part of that conversation where he's talking about the NBC report of Secretary Tillerson, what was alleged to have been said at the Pentagon, and the president was looking to tenfold increase nuclear weapons. I posted it online. You can see all of that there. He shoots it all down. We will get the Iran piece in just a bit.

But let's bring in our panel: Matt Schlapp, contributor with The Hill; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics and host of "No Labels Radio" on Sirius XM, and Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist and senior at the Manhattan Institute.

OK, Jason what about, first of all, the overarching theme here of the past seven days is that this administration is going after campaign promises and rolling back some Obama legacy items?

JASON RILEY, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW: Yes, and you went through the list -- Iran, Paris accords, EPA regulations, you can even add immigration, the executive actions regarding the "dreamers." This is the downside of going about trying to build a legacy by doing end runs around Congress, and that's essentially what he did. And it didn't matter whether his party controlled Congress or not. There were things he couldn't get through and so he decided to go around them and work through the bureaucracy.

And when you build a legacy like that, you risk the next person coming in simply reversing everything, which is also a warning here for Donald Trump, which is to say if he wants something more lasting than Obama was able to accomplish, he too needs to get through Congress. Simply doing things on executive action will leave his legacy vulnerable to the next president.

BAIER: OK, A.B., on the Obamacare subsidies, we just went through the legal, constitutional argument with Jonathan Turley. The president is saying, hey, listen, this is the deal, and if Democrats want to negotiate tomorrow, we will all go there.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: The legal argument is sound. And it was clear from his tweets that he intends to, sort of, hasten the deadline and create this emergency about Congress making an effort after all the failure of repeal and replace effort by Republicans to come in and come up with something. It will be a repair job. It is not going to be an entirely new law. It's not going to be a repeal.

There are bipartisan plans. The problem solvers caucus in the House came up with on in August. It was the basis for the bipartisan talks between Senator Alexander and Senator Murray. They have been ongoing. We don't know that the president has been so involved so much, but he's clearly calling on Congress to act. I think there are people who will be ready to step up. It will be hard for some Republicans to take part in this, thinking that it looks like they are saving Obamacare. They are not really happy with the fact that he did this and in some districts, swing districts, there are a lot of constituents that receive these CSR payments that help them afford very expensive coverage. It will very tough for them politically if something doesn't happen very soon.

BAIER: Right. So that is the onus. The onus is now on Congress on a number of these campaign promises. This is the Senate minority leader's statement today, "Republicans have been doing everything they can for the last 10 months to inject instability into our health care system and to force collapse through sabotage. Last night the president acted. The American people are the ones who will be hurt. Unless our Republican colleagues act the American people will know exactly where to place the blame when their premiums shoot up and when millions lose coverage." Matt.

MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: OK, Chuck and Nancy, the ball is in your court. You've watched Republicans try to figure out what their version of health care reform looks like. The Democrats were into #resistance, fight everything at all costs. Now the president is saying to them, taunting them a bit on Twitter, let's deal. You want to get the CSR payments done? I'm willing to talk.

I think what you see is a White House and a president who is no longer going to take the word of congressional leadership that we'll get this all in one big package and we'll jam it through with Republican votes. On these key issues, he's going to take it step by step, he's going to get what he can, get what he can get done with the Republicans but also work with the Democrats. And you know what, that is lasting. The good side of that is this becomes law and maybe Congress starts to work.

RILEY: Isn't it also interesting listening to Schumer and Pelosi defend corporate welfare. That's essentially what these payments are to these insurance companies. And a court said last year that these payments were illegal because Congress had not authorized them. So here you have Trump reducing corporate welfare and upholding the rule of law, and he's being attacked for it.

SCHLAPP: Can I say something on that, Bret, which is this idea of the separation of powers and the idea that Congress, and Republicans in Congress many times have just ceded their authority to the courts and to the White House. Donald Trump is calling their bluff and saying, guess what, when it comes to immigration, when it comes to these type of appropriations, guess what, guys? The constitution says you have to act.

BAIER: Yes. That was the example is that if the president said don't give me the funds for the wall, I'll just do it by pen and phone, that probably wouldn't go over too well on Capitol Hill.

I promised you'd hear from Charles Krauthammer. Our friend out colleague is still recovering after surgery and we miss his voice, especially on days like this. We miss his voice a lot. But back in April, we discussed the Iran nuclear deal and how Iran was in compliance technically. That is what the Europeans are saying today. Here's what Charles had to say about that.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There's no contradiction whatsoever in our position. You need three things to develop a usable nuclear weapon. Number one, you need the fissile material. Number two, you have to weaponize it. You have to make it explode. And that's what was revealed today, they've been working on this assiduously. Third, you need the ballistic missiles that will deliver them.

The problem is that the Obama administration looked only at the fissile element. So technically speaking, you can say that, yes, it's a frozen program. They are not increasing the amount of enriched uranium. But what the Iranians are doing, and this is so obvious a child can see it, is that the program of the fissile material is frozen, they are working rapidly on the weaponization, which is the other part you need, and of course on the ballistic missiles, which we can see.

The weaponization is in a military facility called Parchin. It was supposed to be investigated under the Obama administration and before the signing of the agreement to make sure it hadn't been used in the past for weaponization. Of course Obama and Kerry caved on that, never did. We are not allowed to inspect. We allow the Iranians to inspect themselves on Parchin, which was a joke.

So yes, they are developing a nuclear weapon. It's a violation of the spirit of the agreement because of the way they look at it. In half a decade, they will be able to resume the fissile material, the enriching uranium, they will have it weaponized, and they will have the missiles.

BAIER: You would maybe think when you are doing the deal that a weapons program would be in a military facility. But that was one of the problems.

KRAUTHAMMER: We can't get to it. We cannot inspect it.


BAIER: And that is one of the problems. And again, we miss his voice and we hope he comes back very soon, pulling and praying for him in recovery as he continues to. A.B., this deal today was the president saying I don't want to recertify this every 90 days. Congress, if you want to act, act. But he also threatened if they don't change it substantially, that he will pull the U.S. out of the Iran deal.

STODDARD: Right. So once again, the onus is completely on the Congress. And as I've said before, I don't have a lot of faith in the Congress doing anything in 60 days. But there are members like Senator Cotton and Senator Corker who are going to try to strengthen this deal. They've been speaking to the secretary of state about it, and they want to make it -- they want to place greater restrictions on. And they are watching the ICBM testing, the things that the Iranian regime is doing that violates the spirit but not per se the letter of the law. That is just going to be a really hard sell. It's really hard right now for them to do all of the things they have to do, the budget deadlines. We have 30 legislative days left in the rest of this fall. And the huge --

SCHLAPP: Getting out my little violin.

STODDARD: -- focus on tax reform to come together and face a Democratic filibuster, it's going be very hard to change this deal.

BAIER: I don't make predictions often, but I bet they give back a little vacation time to try to get some stuff done.

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