Reaction to Bret Baier's interview with Vice President Mike Pence

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 9, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: We are going to listen very intently to conservative leaders. This is the bill, but if there are ways to improve that bill and to give people greater confidence that we are all going to arrive at the same place where Obamacare is done and we've replaced it with the kind of health care reforms that will lower the cost of health insurance by expanding people's choices and giving states more flexibility, then that's where we are headed.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: The legislative process, people are saying I would love to have this in there, I'd love to have that in there. That's legislative process. That's what we're going through. And what people are sort of learning is this reconciliation tool is pretty tight. There's a lot of stuff we would love to put in the bill, but unfortunately the Senate rules don't allow us to do that.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: And that is why they are saying that they have three phases for it and this is the first phase, this legislation that's on the Hill being debated now. The president tweeting today, "Despite what you hear in the press, health care is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture."

Tonight, that beautiful picture is at the White House bowling alley with conservatives bowling for health care. But Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, one of those conservative, said on Twitter "House health care bill can't pass Senate without major changes. To my friends in the House -- pause, start over, get it right. Don't get it fast."

With that, let's bring in our panel: Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano; editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham; Charles Lane, opinion writer for the Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

OK, Laura, your thoughts of how Pence phrases it and where this stands tonight.

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: I think there is a desire to demonstrate unity, and the leadership and of course Vice President Pence and President Trump, they want to tell the country that we are at this, we're working at it together. But I'm not sure they're going to be able to clear the hurdles that exist with this legislation. I understand what Paul Ryan is saying about the Byrd rule and so forth. Louie Gohmert and Jim Jordan and others are saying, look, we are in the majority. We have the power to change this Byrd rule. Why are we allowing this rule?

BAIER: Let me just explain. This is Robert Byrd, deceased senator from West Virginia, who had a rule that a reconciliation bill that requires 51 votes can only include economic issues. It cannot include anything that doesn't deal with the economy, doesn't deal with taxes and money, and thereby crossing state lines. And tort reform cannot be in a reconciliation bill.

INGRAHAM: So their point is this rule is an administrative rule, legislative rule that can be changed by the party, so that's one point. The other point that they make, and I have some sympathy for this, is this is the chance to get this right and really do it right. Tom Cotton says why the rush? You get the sense from him it's a bum's rush to push this thing through as fast as they are. And I think the longer this goes on the harder it's going to be for them to pass it.

In talk radio land and other conservative groups that are fiscally conservative and want have a good example for the rest of the country, really bring costs down of health care, this doesn't do it for them.

BAIER: All right, Judge, the answer to that from the administration point of view we've heard is you've got to get this out first before you can do tax reform or anything else, number one. Number two, it's better than Obamacare. And like Reagan, take the 80 percent.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I understand those arguments, and the president himself made another one either last night or today saying if we don't do this, the 2018 congressional elections are going to be a bloodbath, meaning the Democrats are going to gain seats in the House.

I am entirely with Laura. I am entirely with the small government folks. I don't see the reason to rush. The essence of Obamacare is the federal micromanagement of the health care system and that essence remains in this legislation. And the time to get rid of it is right now because they're never going to have greater numbers in the House and the Senate in the next four years than they do at this moment. Whatever rules they have to change to permit them to do this, they should do so.

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: They don't have the votes. Let's just be clear here.

BAIER: With this current, as it stands today.

LANE: And not only that, they don't have the votes to do the extra stuff like the across state lines, at least they don't clearly have those votes. As Paul Ryan explained, that would be the third prong, that would be the additional stuff, he said, and I don't know who the Democrats are in the Senate who will --

BAIER: Well, there are 11 of them, as I pointed out yesterday, in states that 80 percent of the counties went to Donald Trump that are up for reelection in 2018.

LANE: Yes, and I'm not sure how many of them will vote to put their state insurance commissioner out of business, but anyway, that's a separate point. That's point one.

Point two is, the Republicans are now in the business of taking something away. When was the last time the federal government abolished any program, let alone a program this big? It's hugely risky politically. And I think that's the bottom-line reason people like Tom Cotton and others are hesitating. Yes, they promised to do it. But the Democrats are just waiting for the first person to lose his Medicaid, blame it on Paul Ryan. And I think that's what they legitimately are afraid of.

BAIER: But when you come to politics, aren't we always one election away from dealing with the big thing anyway?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The problem is that the big thing here is an entitlement that nobody, Republican or Democrat, will take away. The one thing that everybody agreed, conservatives, Republicans, in this election and all the elections is we are not going to change the innovation that you cannot lose your insurance or be priced out of the market if you have a preexisting condition. Is anybody going to vote to take that away? No. That's the essence of Obamacare. That's what was introduced.

And the reason that you have this, even in the Ryan plan, why you have this intrusion into the market and the federal government dictating is because in order to keep the provision you have to create an entitlement. It can be, as in Obamacare, a subsidy. It can be a refundable tax credit. But if you want people to have that, and you name me one Republican who wants to abolish it, then the essence of Obamacare is retained and you have to face that fact.

BAIER: That was a point of my question about the mechanics rather than the philosophy about it. But let me go down the row real quick. So do they pass a bill, whether it evolves or not, this time?

KRAUTHAMMER: Out of the House. Yes.

BAIER: And not the Senate?

KRAUTHAMMER: I don't know.

LANE: Yes, the House does succeed in passing this hot potato to the Senate.


NAPOLITANO: No, not this one that we're talking about.

BAIER: All right, Judge, WikiLeaks. Let's listen to Julian Assange and the vice president.


JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: WikiLeaks has a lot more information on what has been going on with the cyber weapons program. Hearing these calls from some of the manufacturers, we have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access.

BAIER: Will the Trump administration pursue charges against the WikiLeaks founder?

PENCE: Trafficking in national security information, as is alleged WikiLeaks has done here, is a very serious offense. This president and this administration will take it very seriously and use the full force of the law and resources of the United States to hold all of those to account that were involved.


BAIER: So the FBI is in search of a hunt, a mole hunt tonight, a leaker. Meantime the CIA is adamant that they are not surveilling U.S. citizens, and the vice president echoed that statement as well.

NAPOLITANO: I don't think anybody in the intelligence committee takes seriously those denials. I think the documents that they released, however they got them, show conclusively and unambiguously that this CIA has been plying its tradecraft on Americans in the United States, even intimately in our homes. We are one step away from totalitarianism. When I am in front of the microwave in my kitchen and they can hear what I'm talking about, and when they can use my cell phone as a recording device whether it's in my pocket or in the front seat of my car. And I am happy that we know about this because when a violation of constitutional liberties of this magnitude is going on in an organized way by the government no matter what party controls it, the American people need to know.

BAIER: You don't buy the denials at all, that it's not happening, that there's a firm red line?

NAPOLITANO: I don't buy the denials because my friends, our friends in the intelligence community, don't buy the denials.

BAIER: Laura?

INGRAHAM: The competency of this government to guard its secrets is beyond devastated by the WikiLeaks revelations. We now know according to the reporting today that somewhere between 200 and 1,000 individuals had access, knowledge of these hacking tools. They have to now go through the 200 to 1,000 include a lot of contractors, a lot of them have offices near Dulles Airport. They have a lot of interviews to do. Whether they are going to find who leaked this, we don't know, but it looks like it could be a contractor.

BAIER: Should WikiLeaks be liable? Should WikiLeaks come under some kind of --

INGRAHAM: Yes, of course they should. But I agree with what Judge Napolitano is saying. I don't think anyone can trust the intelligence agency given what we know about the incompetency of even guarding their own secrets. They're not able to guard their own secrets, and they're the spy agency?

BAIER: Quickly.

KRAUTHAMMER: Number one, I have never trusted my microwave.


KRAUTHAMMER: The other thing is we have never discussed Ecuadorian elections here before, but we should, because there is an upcoming election. Remember, Assange is in the Ecuadorian embassy. He's got asylum in London, and the opposition candidate who is in our runoff which is going to happen soon is pledging he's going to kick him out of the embassy in which case, he could be snatched, he could be brought here and tried. So let's hope we are interfering in the Ecuadorian election.

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