Priebus on House Intel probe, free trade, Pennsylvania race

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LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST: I am Laura Ingraham and this is "The Ingraham Angle." We have tons of news for you tonight including an exclusive interview with former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. He's here. We are going to get his take on the Trump tariff fight, turnover at the White House and the special election in Pennsylvania.

But the big news of the night, the House Intel Committee is ending its Russia collusion investigation. We will tell you what they found out. Plus, a string of deadly package bombs are terrorizing Austin, Texas. We'll have a report on the very latest. And it has happened again. Another potentially dangerous illegal immigrant released by local authorities before ICE could take custody of them. Unbelievable.

But first, opposition within and without, that is the focus of tonight's ANGLE. The political and media elites were in their usual freak-out mode after the president spoke in Pennsylvania over the weekend. But while they were busy obsessing about his harsh slam on NBC's Chuck Todd, they missed the real heat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We put on tariffs and the European Union is out there. You can't go higher than you are anyway. They have trade barriers. We can't sell the farming goods in there. They totally restrict us. They say we want the tariffs taken off. I said, good, open up the barriers and get rid of your tariffs. If you don't do that, we are going to tax Mercedes-Benz, we'll tax BMW. You want to have money?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: It was like back on the campaign trail. Awesome! Ever since President Trump announced his decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports coming into the United States, Republicans on the Hill have been trying to convince him, Mr. President, you are wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imposing the steel tariffs interjected uncertainty in the economy where it wasn't necessary.

SENATOR TED CRUZ, R--TEXAS: We will end up costing more jobs because of the tariffs than will be saved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I disagree with the president. I don't know of any trade war that ends well. That is not my reading of history.

HOUSE SPEAKER:, REP. PAUL RYAN, R—WISC.: We want to limit as much unintended consequences and collateral economic damage as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: How many of those guys went to Ohio -- well, now they are threatening to pass legislation that would essentially nullify the president's executive order.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Let's have tariffs, but let's couple that with uncertainty. That is most worse. Tariffs are awful. Tariffs to uncertainty is probably even worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have legislative tools at the disposal and how do we get it to the president for his signature?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not happy with it because these tariffs are going to be a tax on the American citizen. I think there is a good chance that we will nullify them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Well, with all due respect to Senator Hatch like you supported the TPP and you actually wanted to expand NAFTA, and you supported giving Obama fast track trade authority. Senator Hatch has been wrong on every trade related issue in my mind. Now he and Jeff Flake, both soon to be retirees are suddenly the sledgehammers against tariffs. Once again, we see that most on Capitol Hill still do not get why Trump against all expert predictions won the GOP nomination and the presidency. Does Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan really believe that Trump would have won Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin had he simply touted the globalist line that all trade no matter what happens to the American worker is good trade?

Do you remember all of the rosy predictions about opening up our trade relationship with China? It's going to be fabulous. They are going to be freer and more free press. Please. No objective review of what's happened since 2001 when we approved China's entry into the World Trade Organization would say it's been a win for the U.S.

Last year, we had the highest trade deficit on record with China. By the way, China has brazenly ripped off our intellectual property and flooded the world markets with an excess capacity of steel and aluminum. And what's happened? You see those numbers there. This has driven down the prices worldwide and driven great U.S. companies out of business. By giving massive subsidies to their own industries, the Chinese communist regime engages in rampant unfair trade practices and ends up distorting the global marketplace.

Markets aren't efficient the way they operate. The president reiterated in Pennsylvania, look, Europe doesn't have a hand on the trade issue either. Right now, we are running $150 billion trade deficit with the E.U. We know they put up unfair barriers as the president said to our agriculture products, massive subsidies to airbus. Europe has been taking advantage of the United States for too long. Both in failing to meet its military obligations under NATO and in the trade arena. Trump has already forced their hands on the NATO issue and the sky did not fall. They are actually contributing more to the military. Now he is defending the U.S. economic interests with these fairly narrowly cast aluminum and steel tariffs.There is a lot of historical precedent. As Buchan wrote in a column "From Lincoln to William McKinley to Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding through Calvin Coolidge, the Republican Party erected the most awesome manufacturing machine the world had ever seen. And as the party of high tariffs through those seven decades, the GOP was rewarded by becoming America's party."

Trump's instinct on trade have been spot on for decades. As China has become more repressive and the U.S. median wages flattened for 15 straight years, mainline Republicans offer the middle class more of the same. We got more wars, more immigration and more trade deals. The GOP establishment and some of the Democrats, well, they heard the call to Wall Street. They did not hear the voices of men like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father in the '80s lost his job due to imports coming in to this country. I want to tell you what that does to a man with six kids is devastating. I never forgot looking into his eyes in my household what it does to my family. You hear about it, but it impacts you and it will never leave you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: That should never leave any of us. Now Donald Trump, the only Republican politician since Reagan who can actually fill a stadium, he is supposed to listen to the same people who helped get our country into the mess that he has been trying to dig us out of? The same people by the way who couldn't see any of this coming. And still do not really see the threat that China poses to the United States to freedom and yes, to the free markets. I think it's time for the party to unify behind the president's vision and give his policies a real fighting chance. That goes for the White House staff as well.

President Trump needs key staff people around him who support his America first agenda, of course, there can be disagreements. That is all healthy and good. But his core principle of ending illegal immigration, creating fair trade policies that benefit American workers and stopping endless wars have to sacrosanct. With Hope Hicks gone, he needs a communications director, who is a real seasoned strategist. One who will clearly articulate the president's message and drive it home with great events like that one we showed you from the White House last week and the voices that reinforce his policies.

That requires daily message discipline and real experience, it's essential. The chief of his Economic Council should similarly be someone who will advance his policies, not advocate against them. Gary Cohn is a really smart guy, but he was never going to see the wisdom of protecting American manufacturing. He is the kind of guy who -- he's basically fine with every auto jobs moving to Mexico so long as it benefits the bottom line of the companies making the cars.

The truth is there aren't that many U.S. economic nationalists around. That's to be fair. The president has enough people, though, who disagree with him. They're on Capitol Hill. He doesn't need another advocate for them in the White House. This is not a perpetual debating society. Anyone working for the president needs to know on these key issues, the debate is over. The American people chose Trump's vision. So, it's time to get with the program. That is "The Angle."

We begin tonight with an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about White House staff shakeups. He was White House chief of staff for President Trump from January until July 2017. Before that, he was chairman of the Republican National Committee. And we are pleased to welcome Reince Priebus. Reince, good to see you, man. How are you?

REINCE PRIEBUS: Great to be here. A lot to learn in that opening.

INGRAHAM: Yes. Come on! So, what do you think about where we are right now? I mean, the Republicans, we are going to get to what is happening on trade. The House Committee, the Intel Committee today announced it is shutting down. They didn't find Russian collusion and the president has been saying this consistently. What is your take?

PRIEBUS: Well, you might recall in the summer about six or seven months ago there was a bubbling up of a call among political leaders, party leaders in our party that the Intel Committees of both the House and the Senate should shut down because the Mueller probe would be so far reaching that there would be no need for these committees to continue subpoenaing people and interviewing people. It was actually the president that said no. Let these committees do their work. So behind closed doors the president is saying no, let them keep going. I know that eventually they will issue a report and the report will say there was no collusion. We never talk to the Russians. We didn't negotiate with these people. So, the president was confident it would happen. I have never seen it. I never spoke to Russians at the RNC. I never heard of other people doing it. I never talked to people like Papadopoulos or Carter Page. I'm not surprised. I want people to understand that the president was behind the scenes saying let the committees do their work.

INGRAHAM: Maxine Waters was on another network tonight. This is so hilarious we have to play it for you. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE MAXINE WATERS, D—CALI.: Who would believe Nunes was working in a credible way to find out what took place? As a matter of fact, he with us simply a messenger boy for the president running up in the middle of the night trying to prove that Obama, for example, had wiretapped the president. So, they can conclude whatever they want to. They weren't doing anything to begin with. It was not a credible investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: That is the Democrats' take, Nunes is a messenger boy. I don't know if that is very nice to say.

PRIEBUS: That will be their take through the midterms and through 2020. The problem in the mid-terms, of course, is that you have marginal races that are in play. So, 80 percent of the districts are either 90 percent Republican or 90 percent Democrat. There are no real marginal races about
22 --

INGRAHAM: We will get into the Pennsylvania race in a moment.

PRIEBUS: So. this type of rhetoric isn't going to work. Impeachment rhetoric doesn't work in the marginal races. These are people that want to see Washington work and the policy-driven debates is what you will see in the marginal districts.

INGRAHAM: Yes. Speaking of, on the trade issue, you are a free trader. I hear free trade. I'm for trade. I want trade.

PRIEBUS: It's great.

INGRAHAM: Yes, but $150 billion trade deficit with Europe, $360 billion with China. Even with Japan, we have $68.8 billion trade deficit. The South Korean free trade deal, each year the deficits have grown and grown and grown. How do you get leverage with these countries that are taking us to the cleaners on these trades -- he is getting leverage now, is he not with these tariffs?

PRIEBUS: You do what President Trump does, which is if you see carefully what he is doing. He puts the chips on the table. He put the game plan on the table, so people can see it and they can freak out about it. But then what he does is negotiate each piece. Canada off the board. Mexico off the board. Had a phone call with the prime minister of Australia over the weekend, tweeted out they are off the board. Eventually he will put the issue on the table to negotiate with these countries one by one bilaterally--

INGRAHAM: We are doing this now. This is what I'm saying. The Republican Party is criticizing him, and he got the E.U. and Japan two days ago to say we are standing against the China trade abuses. Do you think they would have done that?

PRIEBUS: No.

INGRAHAM: With Lighthizer and Wilbur Ross, they never would have done that unless they are looking at the trade tariffs.

PRIEBUS: But I would say this in defense of somebody -- I like your monologue, very intelligent. In defense of part of it, the president chooses on his own to put people around him that don't agree with each other, major things.

So even when I was there, it wasn't like a couple of narratives incorrect on the tariff stuff. This wasn't something that the president suddenly came up with and my God, he went out with the tariffs out of nowhere. This is something that was debated from before the inauguration. He wanted this steel and aluminum tariffs since before the inauguration. We debated it week after week after week. We got ticked off a few times at the staff and said where are my tariffs. This is not something that just came about. He has been debating it forever. This is what President Trump is. To put Wilbur Ross and Gary Cohn and Bob Lighthizer and Steven Miller--

INGRAHAM: They are incredibly smart people.

PRIEBUS: But also, people that don't agree with him. Some White House has the same species of people. Everyone is the same. He has no problem putting natural predators together. Let them bring their "A" game and fight it out. Then he makes his decision.

INGRAHAM: I really respect that. On some of the core issues at some point you do have to kind of --

PRIEBUS: But he is always going --

INGRAHAM: He will go with his gut. Let's talk about the Pennsylvania district, District 18. This is being watched by everybody. That is a district that is really tight. It will be redrawn in November anyway, but this is being looked at as a big bellwether. They say the prosecutor Conor Lamb ahead by a little, but you are not so sure the Democrats can pull it out.

PRIEBUS: I think it will be really hard for the Democrats to pull this out. I think they may be overhyping this a little bit. Republicans are playing this pretty well by setting the expectations that they may lose. The president won this district by 20 points. Today, he is up by 12, 15. A loss of about eight points in that particular place. Candidates matter, but this is really about the turn-out. I would explain to people in a district like this, if you had a bowl of popcorn and one was Republican and one was Democrat. The voters in the Republican bowl, popcorn is all the way up to the top. The Democrat bowl the popcorn is about two-third of the way.

INGRAHAM: I'm hungry now. My favorite thing.

PRIEBUS: But Republicans have a full bowl to turn out. If they do really poor job and say they only turn out two-thirds and the Democrats do a great job and get every single person out, then they can win, but it's still going to be very difficult--

INGRAHAM: I don't see it.

PRIEBUS: The data so far has been showing things trending back to the Republican over the last few days.

INGRAHAM: I don't see how you can see the Trump speech in Pennsylvania and think that is mojo. I don't care --

PRIEBUS: One thing about the referendum on Trump. I think you have to throw it out. If Donald Trump is on the ballot today, he would win the district. So, the question is the candidate chosen by the Republicans?

INGRAHAM: No one is going to beat Trump. Come on.

PRIEBUS: Is the turnout in that district going to make the difference between the two parties? I think the RNC and the Republican --

INGRAHAM: I am feeling like I'm going back to 2012 with the RNC. Getting the murder board out to see the district. Reince, stay with us. We will talk about that issue of who should fill key vacancies in the west wing and what it could mean to the Trump agenda and more breaking tonight after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: Welcome back. We are continuing our exclusive discussion with former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. After a tug-of-war with the president over tariffs, Gary Cohn, the head of the White House National Economic Council, resigned last week and now it's whispered that Larry Kudlow, an old friend may take the job.

Here Kudlow earlier this month on CNBC talking about the Trump, steel and aluminum tariffs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so good on tax cuts. He is so good on deregulation, infrastructure. I even like him on immigration. He has never been good on trade. If we have to walk out of NAFTA or the negotiations totally breakdown then this steel thing turns in from minor irritants to a major calamity for the economy and the stock market.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Apparently, he's had two conversations with Larry Kudlow, who is an old friend of yours and mine. What about that?

PRIEBUS: Larry is a great pick because he is the word "Trumpian." He is respected by Wall Street. He isn't afraid to push back. The president respects him. Those are great combinations to have --

INGRAHAM: But the tariff thing you don't think --

PRIEBUS: The president doesn't care. He loves Gary Cohn and Gary hates the tariffs. Still loves Gary. We all do. He likes to have people around him that don't agree with each other. The president would be very bored regardless of people write in the media about the drama and the chaos, the president would be bored if everyone came in you are right. Do it this way.

INGRAHAM: That is what the media think that he wants yes-men. You are so brave. We love you. You are great. That is the wrap on him. He wants the constant praise and he is annoyed the people don't praise him.

PRIEBUS: He definitely wants to know if he is doing well. But when it comes to decision there is nothing major that gets decided -- I can attest to this -- in the oval office that is a no-brain thing that people come in and make a decision. People come in, they stand around his desk.

He allowed the argument to take place. They fight it out. He goes with whatever -- not always his gut instincts. He backs off of things quite a bit, but what the media focuses in on is the process of the argument as oppose to the decision. That is what I try to remind people to do.

Focus on the decision, ISIS, the courts, tax cuts, regulations and even the tariffs. People won't like it, but those are core issues that he's allowed a process that includes arguing among very smart people in front of the president and he gets it done.

INGRAHAM: What about the comms director? That is an important job. From Pat Buchanan in his day, fantastic for Reagan. A huge turnover in the Comms Department. Hope Hicks very close to the president. Didn't have a huge background in the communications but trusted. I hear there is someone sort of close to her who might be thought of for the job. Then we have Mercedes Schlapp is fantastic and experienced and seasoned. What are your thoughts?

PRIEBUS: This is an all-encompassing job. The press secretary is a big job. But the comms director does everything from working with the press secretary to make sure that the rapid response is in place, surrogates get out on the networks.

INGRAHAM: Events, Reince, the event with the steelworkers, that's fabulous. Mercedes worked on that.

PRIEBUS: But all those events whether it be Harley Davidson coming in.

INGRAHAM: Get him on the road. He is great on the road. He is great on the road.

PRIEBUS: Right. So, the comms director job is extremely important. It's also with President Trump who knows every article that is written. He watches all of the key moments that define the narrative. I have never seen a person more in tune --

INGRAHAM: They criticize him for that. You watch tv.

PRIEBUS: That what's a president needs to be concerned with, but in regard to the communications, I don't think in modern history there has been president that cares more about what the American people are reading and perceiving that is being done by the administration. That is not to be criticized.

INGRAHAM: Did he go over the line on the Chuck Todd comment?

PRIEBUS: I wouldn't use that language. No. I think Chuck is a professional. I have nothing but respect for him.

INGRAHAM: You have nothing but respect -- are you kidding me? Have you seen what he said about you?

PRIEBUS: I don't know what he said about me either.

INGRAHAM: He has been horrible to the president. How is that fair and balanced?

PRIEBUS: I would say that saying those words brings unwanted attention --

INGRAHAM: I wouldn't use those words either.

PRIEBUS: Right. So, that's my point. So, I think it's something that I would avoid.

INGRAHAM: It's his thing. It's his thing. Finally, on North Korea, I know you have something to say about that. This could be a big breakthrough. It is unbelievable that he is meeting with Kim Jong Un.
What is your take? How did the decision come about?

PRIEBUS: I think the narrative on that got out of the gate all wrong. The idea on a whim the president accepted an invitation without thinking about it. As I understand it, when the South Koreans came into the oval office, the president had General Mattis in the office, General McMaster in the office, the vice president in the office. The deputy director of the CIA. The DNI Director Dan Coats in the office and others in the office.

I think people run with the narrative and they don't realize the president isn't making the decisions in a vacuum. These are things that I think the American people need to know. This is some things that a new Communications Director would correct immediately. Get out in front of the people so people understand that the president is surrounded by really smart people. That talk and argue about things and the decisions are made. Including whether or not to meet with the North Koreans.

INGRAHAM: Mercedes Schlapp, would she good at Communincations? Not that I'm pushing. She'd be great. She should get it. Reince, good to see you. Thanks for coming in. We really appreciate it. You might think, by the way, that authorities want to keep track of illegal immigrant accused of killing a driver in a hit-and-run. Up next, we will tell you why that suspect is free tonight. Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: Well, this is an infuriating update on a story we brought you last week. The Denver sheriff is ordering an investigation why his department released an illegal immigrant charged in a deadly DUI before ICE could detain him. Ivan Zamarripa-Castaneda was charged with drunk driving and causing a fiery crash that killed a truck driver and shut down I-70 for hours on March 3rd. The Mexican national fled the scene but was arrested the next day. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer on him a week ago. The sheriff's department didn't notify ICE of the suspect's release until an hour after he posted bond, and then he left.

Here to discuss these developments is Democratic strategist and former DNC deputy press secretary Jose Aristimuno. Jose, it's great to see you. This is a wild case. I just learned about this, Jose, I was driving this morning, believe it or not, with my kids on I-70 to the Denver airport for about an hour and a half, and this crossed my cellphone. I'm thinking, first of all the road was dangerous. I wasn't driving. The road is dangerous, and this guy caused this fiery crash. He is released and they didn't notify ICE until an hour after his release. I know you are an advocate for illegal immigrants and the immigration process, but this ain't good for your case, I can tell you that.

JOSE ARISTIMUNO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I'm not an advocate for undocumented immigrants to commit serious crimes. Any undocumented immigrant, and let me be clear, Laura, that have committed serious felonies, including this one, should be deported.

What I advocate for is this. We have to be careful with these sort of cases because we don't want to generalize and allow people to think a majority of immigrants are these people sort of criminals, because it's not true. And you know it very well. Every year the FBI releases a report that say under 10 percent of the undocumented immigrants in this country are actually criminals. Should the sheriff department from Denver look into this? Absolutely they should look into this. I don't know if there was a miscommunication or what have you, but of course it should be looked into. We agree. Democrat and Republicans agree.

INGRAHAM: Jose, we have sanctuary jurisdictions which a good friend of mine the other day said we should call them fugitive jurisdictions because they are places where fugitives should go and live because they have a good life. They will be released back in community even if they are arrested for criminal activity because people like Kamala Harris, I'm going to play this sound bite for you, senator from California basically thinks the Immigration and Customs Enforcement should really no longer exist. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D—CALI.: Should ICE exist? Certainly. I'm a prosecutor. I believe that there needs to be serious, severe, and swift consequence when people commit serious and violent crimes. If one human being kills another human being, a woman is raped, a child is molested, there needs to be serious consequence. And certainly if they're undocumented they should be deported if they commit those serious and violent offenses. So Yes, ICE has a purpose. ICE has a role. ICE should exist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: Just to be cleared she got killed in commentary afterward because she as a senator from California said ICE should exist. That is how left the Democrats have gotten if someone like Kamala Harris says of course you need enforcement. You need people who can go into communities and remove the dangerous elements. But it is really hard to do that, Jose, when we have an Oakland mayor who is thwarting federal immigration officials by announcing to immigrants, oh, guess what, they are coming.

ARISTIMUNO: You know what, if we had a president who had leadership to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Laura, we wouldn't be in this debate about the sanctuaries cities because you know this very well. The majority of the immigrants in this country are law-abiding citizens. They contribute to the economy and they create jobs every single year.

INGRAHAM: That argument, if you say 10 percent, I think you said 10 percent of illegal immigrants commit crimes.

ARISTIMUNO: Under 10 percent.

INGRAHAM: OK, under 10 percent. Is that OK? If there are 12 million people here illegally, 10 percent of that is a lot of people. We don't need any more criminals in the United States. We have plenty of criminals.

ARISTIMUNO: I agree with you.

INGRAHAM: It's illegal immigration for a reason. It's not legal. We are for legal.

ARISTIMUNO: You and I agree -- Laura, you and I agree on that, but let me be clear, though. If we legalize a majority of the undocumented population in this country, wouldn't it be a whole lot easier to actually look for the one that commit violent crimes. It would a whole lot easier because we are now looking in an ocean of 14 million or what have you of undocumented immigrants. Let's put them on the back of the line and make sure they assimilate to our country, that they learn English, that they pay back taxes. But we've got to do something because what we have right now is amnesty.

INGRAHAM: Jose, why do you think we have so many court appointed interpreters in courts today, in state court and traffic courts, and you have the state appointed interpreters for people who have been in the country for 10, 12, 15 years. You talk to any cop who has to appear in court regularly in northern Virginia, they are like, oh yes, we have 15 different interpreters and they are having to speak various languages, not just Spanish, by the way. So the idea that everyone is coming here and everyone is assimilating is just not true. People are coming here and speaking their own languages because they can. I don't think that helps assimilation at all.

ARISTIMUNO: We can put a system in place that helps assimilate better, make it easier for them, create a system to make that happen. And it's that simple. But all the sort of things that you want to address, Laura guess what? President Trump can do it if he put together and actual comprehensive immigration reform plan.

INGRAHAM: Jose, 1.8 million Dreamers would have gotten amnesty. The Democrats did not want to give him that campaign issue.

ARISTIMUNO: That is not true. Laura, that is not true.

INGRAHAM: It was 2 million almost.

ARISTIMUNO: He took away DACA. He took away DACA. He is the one that took it away. We wouldn't be actually debating --

INGRAHAM: He would actually give them legal status. Better than DACA. You think that deal was a bad deal, 1.8 million up from 800,000 that would have gotten amnesty under Trump?

ARISTIMUNO: Horrible deal. It was horrible deal. He held the Dreamers hostage and tried to finish his obsession with the wall that we know actually won't help America.

INGRAHAM: So you don't want to a wall and 1.8 million was no good.

ARISTIMUNO: We already have a wall with Mexico.

INGRAHAM: It's not realistic. Jose, it's always good to have you on. We love having you on, so thank you very much.

ARISTIMUNO: Thank you.

INGRAHAM: And by the way, it looks like the president will try a new approach to end school violence. Dan Bongino and Geraldo Rivera debate it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: The left is apoplectic that the White House has decided not to pursue a proposal to raise the age to buy some types of rifles while pushing for rigorous firearms training for teachers. Let's discuss the merits of these ideas with FOX News correspondent at large Geraldo Rivera and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino who is a contributor to NRA TV.

All right, Geraldo, what up with this? The president came out early on and indicated that he would be in favor of the raising the age to buying these weapons and conservatives were screaming about it. But now it doesn't look like anything will happen.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE: I was profoundly disappointed by the president's vacillation on it. The last time Dan and I debated was the 17th of February and that was at a dinner with the president at Mar-a-Lago where I suggested raising the age so that it was at least as hard to buy an AR-15 as it is to get a bottle of beer in Florida.

I want to congratulate the students of Parkland High School, I want to congratulate Governor Rick Scott. Florida did pass raising the age limit from 18 to 21, also a three-day waiting period and some banning of bump stocks and so forth. The president when I had dinner with him had just come out of the hospital.
He had seen the savage nature of the wounds inflicted on these young people by that awesome destructive weapon, and he was moved by it. And I'm shocked that he blinked and backed down from the NRA. I lamented and hopes that he comes back to the position he has held at various times in the last three weeks.

INGRAHAM: Dan?

DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Geraldo, again, that is a false equivalence. Saying that you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol, a mind- altering substance, and comparing it to maybe a 20-year-old who wants to defend themselves with a shotgun living by themselves or an 18-year-old who wants to hunt is absurd. I could throw the very same analogy at you.
Geraldo, down in Florida you can drive a car at 15. Maybe we should be able to buy a rifle at 15.

RIVERA: You can't buy cigarettes until you are 21 in many states.

BONGINO: And that has nothing to do with firearms.

RIVERA: The reason we postpone adulthood for young people is that they evolve. Kids have all kind of issues, like Cruz obviously did in parkland.
They are going through the being bullied or their girlfriend breaks up with them or -- they are growing, becoming adults.

INGRAHAM: But Geraldo, most firearm fatalities occur with handguns. We know that, right. Some handguns you have to be 21 to buy as well in other states. But I guess what Trump probably came out and saw is we ban assault weapons from 94 to 2004. All the studies demonstrated that we didn't decrease the number of fatalities because of that assault weapons ban. And I think when --

RIVERA: I disagree with you.

INGRAHAM: -- these measures sound good, the Justice Department, Institute for Justice did a comprehensive review after the assault weapons ban, and they weren't pro or con. They just said it didn't have an effect. So I think the president, the emotional moment, I agree with you, I think he probably reacted to that. But after an amount of time I think he probably said there is a lot we could do to prevent this beyond going to the quick legislative fix. And I bet that is where he came down. Geraldo?

RIVERA: I just think the NRA is so awesome in the vindictive power that it can unleash on anyone that the president was even mocking many of the legislators in the meeting saying you are afraid of the NRA, you are afraid of the NRA. I'm the only one who is not afraid of the NRA, and guess what?
When he had those series of meetings with the NRA folks, he changed his position on it. Why? I think that there is a direct correlation between the pressure the NRA inflicts on any elected official and their actions. It is something that is very, very depressing, particularly when the people want change. The majority, if you ask these various surveys taken, everybody wants change. It's a very small minority that have Dan's position.

INGRAHAM: I think you can say --

BONGINO: Really?

INGRAHAM: I think you could say the thing about the power of Planned Parenthood in the Democrat Party too. There is no room for debate there and there is a lot more mortality involved with Planned Parenthood on the annual basis of 325,000 babies who are aborted. Dan, you can wrap up.

BONGINO: Geraldo, listen, I'm running with about 4,999,999 more people in the NRA. You may have missed their numbers, but it's about 5 million Americans and probably more who think they are members of the members of the NRA. To say that this is some kind of small group like it is the empire from the "Star Wars" series is utterly outrageous. The NRA's power is in that 5 million people show up and vote for their second amendment right to defend themselves.

RIVERA: Wait until the march of all those children for change. You will see a march.

INGRAHAM: We'll be covering it, that's for sure.

By the way, guys, Austin, Texas, is gripped by fear tonight. What police are now saying about the deadly package explosions across the city. New information when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: A string of packages bombs has struck terror across the city of Austin, Texas. Authorities are scrambling to find a suspect and revealing disturbing new information tonight. FOX's Trace Gallagher joins us now with more from our Los Angeles bureau. Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Laura, so far this bomber is lethal and very elusive. At 6:45 this morning a 17-year-old boy found a package on the front step, brought it in the kitchen to open where it exploded killing him and injuring a 40-year-old woman. It's unclear if that was his mom. Witnesses say the explosion was loud. Authorities say it was also powerful. And similar to the package bomb that killed a 39- year-old man on March 2nd.

And just as police were investigating the parallels of the first two bombs, a third package exploded severely injuring a 75-year-old woman. Now investigators are looking at patterns. For example, because the packages have all been found in the morning they believe the bombs are dropped off at night in boxes that appear to be about the same size. And the police chief told Martha McCallum the bombmaker is no amateur. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF BRIAN MANLEY, AUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT: It takes a certain level of skill to be able to build a device like this and deploy it to your intended target without having it explode in the process. We are seeing how easily they explode once the victims are handling them, so there is a certain level of skill that is going along with what this individual or individuals are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: We know the first two explosions happened about 12 miles apart. The third bomb went off five and a half miles from the second. Both victims who died are African-American. The 75-year-old female who is in critical condition is Hispanic. Police are not ruling anything out but they say it is too early to tell if the victims were the intended targets or if these might be hate crimes. Surveillance cameras near the location are now being scanned to see if the video captured any potential suspect.

The packages were not delivered by the postal service or shipping companies like FedEx and UPS. And police are now telling everyone in and around the Austin area that if a box shows up at your home and you did not expect it to call 911. Back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s Ted Kaczynski mailed and planted several package bombs around the country that killed three and injured several more. It took investigators nearly 18 years to bring him to justice. Laura?

INGRAHAM: Trace, thanks so much.

And when we return, the last bite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

INGRAHAM: Before we go, the last bite. That's so cool. We have some breaking news for you. The president announced today that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be meeting with the EU about lowering tariffs on American goods. He's been a big supporter of the president's steel and aluminum tariffs, and our cameras finally caught up after his preliminary meeting with the EU trade czars. And we asked him what American workers can expect from those negotiations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: I'm blaming Raymond for that. I cannot wait to see the full eve summit footage. Is that a separated at birth Wilbur Ross image? That's just awful. You people, no sense of humor. Actually, that's pretty funny. That's all the time we have. We haveThis is a rush transcript from "The Ingraham Angle," March 12, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Ed Henry who is in for Shannon Bream and is going to do a fantastic show. Of course he always does. "FOX and Friends," the man does everything.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS HOST: I can't wait to see who you take on in the cabinet tomorrow night. Everyone is going to need to tune in for that.

(LAUGHTER)

INGRAHAM: Thanks, Ed. Have a great show.

END

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