This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," February 16, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning, everyone. Welcome.
I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."
President's weekend 2020, with a big week ahead. President Trump in Florida today looking to rev up his base at the Daytona 500 this afternoon.
Coming up, he called it first on this program. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is here, reacting to a report Michael Bloomberg is considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate, something Bannon told us back in August.
Also ahead, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is here. He will be campaigning with the president in his home state of California next week. We will catch up with him, in the face of breaking news out of the Department of Justice this weekend, ex-FBI official Andrew McCabe escaping criminal charges for his allegedly lying to the feds about media leaks.
We will talk with FOX News contributor Trey Gowdy about that. Exclusive details on John Durham's probe and the bombshell evidence that could change everything coming up from Trey Gowdy.
Also here, Congressman Matt Gaetz on the House Judiciary and Armed Services committees, as A.G. Barr gets ready to testify in front of that committee.
Plus, Arkansas Senator Tom cotton is here on China's coronavirus epidemic - - new information on that this morning.
All that, and a lot more, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
And we begin this morning with this: Michael Bloomberg reportedly considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate.
Bloomberg's campaign responding to the news, saying this: "We are focused on the primary and the debate, not vice president speculation."
Joining me right now, former White House chief strategist and the "War Room" host, Steve Bannon, the man who called this back in August on this program.
Steve, it's great to have you here.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.
So, you knew Hillary Clinton was going to come into this race. You said it, and nobody -- everybody was thinking, what? Are you kidding me? But you were right, if this is true. Assess the situation, the combination of Bloomberg and Clinton.
BANNON: Look, Matt Drudge put his name on this yesterday.
This was original reporting from Matt Drudge. If Drudge puts his name on something, and there hasn't been denials, it's money good. I'm not saying it's going to happen. And Matt Drudge is not saying it's happening, but there are clearly discussions going on.
You really haven't had a denial from the Bloomberg camp. And you certainly haven't had a denial from the Hillary Clinton camp. And I think this goes back to the heart of why the Democratic Party has lost its way. The Democratic Party does not understand today, eight months from Election Day, why they lost 2016.
They don't understand about managed decline of our elites. They don't understand why Donald Trump won. They don't understand the message of Donald Trump.
They have spent three years trying to destroy him. They have failed to destroy him. Eight months from the election, they have nothing. So now they have a moderate Republican mayor oligarch of New York combining with a globalist multi-time failure presidential candidate to try to do a combination.
And I think that this shows you the desperation of the Democratic Party and really the personal vendetta that the Clintons and Michael Bloomberg have against President Trump.
This is not about taking the country forward. This is not about taking the country to the next level. This is not about helping working-class people. This is a personal vendetta.
And Democrats -- and I come from a family of Democrats. The Democratic Party should be ashamed of itself that it's in this situation.
BARTIROMO: Well, you say oligarchs.
And I thought it was really interesting. Yesterday, when that news first broke that he's considering choosing Hillary Clinton, a lot of people questioned, well, wait a second. You're not -- you're not supposed to have two candidates from the same state. They're both from New York.
So that was very quickly changed by Michael Bloomberg apparently saying, well, that's OK. I have got a home in Colorado and I have got a home in Florida. I will change my address to say that I'm from Florida.
Can he do that, just say...
BANNON: Yes, well, this is what oligarchs do.
Remember, on Tuesday night, March 3, in a couple of weeks, at midnight, when the California polls close out -- out West, the Democratic Party will have an independent socialist and a moderate or liberal mayor, Republican mayor of New York, as the two top guys running for the primary.
There won't really be any Democrats around. This is why Hillary Clinton -- and I believe that Bill Clinton's fingerprints are all over this.
I think you can see Bill Clinton trying to get Hillary back in the game. And I said back in August and I have said over -- for years since -- remember, Trump wouldn't be impeached if Michael Bloomberg hadn't put the $100 million up for the dirty 30 for the -- for those House seats, that it just shows you that they have been thinking this through, and that there was always going to be a reaction to Bloomberg buying the Democratic Party.
He's doing a leveraged buyout of the Democratic Party. And the people -- and there's going to be a counter-reaction. He's trying to -- he's trying to get in front of that by co-opting the Clintons now and working with the Clintons.
The Bernie people, the Bernie movement have to understand now they're detested and despised, as the deplorables are in the Trump movement. And I think this is a wakeup call for all of Bernie's people to say, hey, we are detested by Bloomberg. We're detested by the Clintons.
Here we are, the front-runner. They don't give us any respect. The liberal media doesn't give us any respect. I think the Bernie people now have to start to look for Donald Trump as their voice.
BARTIROMO: Well, look at this. He's in the lead. Bernie is. They don't want him in the lead.
The Hillary Clinton camp keeps trashing him. Hillary herself said nobody likes him. Why do you think Bill Clinton's fingerprints are all over this? Talk to us about that a bit. What do you...
BANNON: First off, I think Bill Clinton, back from '16, Bill Clinton was one that said the hipsters in Brooklyn do not understand what Donald Trump's doing.
Donald Trump's going into Michigan. Donald Trump's going to Wisconsin. He's going to Pennsylvania. He's talking about returning America to its greatness built upon the shoulders of the working class and middle class.
Clinton, who's a master politician, saw that Donald Trump was resonating with working-class Democrats and would win those states.
BANNON: The hipsters in Brooklyn -- this is why Hillary Clinton would never won.
The hipsters in Brooklyn thought they had a better plan. They thought they could microtarget this thing. And that's why Clinton has been seething, just like Hillary has, from that time.
But here's the important point. They haven't learned the lessons of Trump. All they have done for three years is tried to destroy President Trump. They haven't tried to work with him to take the country forward. They haven't tried to work with him on trade. They haven't tried to work with him on bringing jobs back to America.
BANNON: They haven't tried to work with him on the wall.
BARTIROMO: ... to impeach him again.
I just was -- look, I'm not questioning your thinking, because you have been so spot on throughout all of this. But I'm just wondering, is this story...
BANNON: We were pretty mocked when we said Bloomberg and Clinton.
BARTIROMO: Incredible. You were spot on.
But it -- but this is also coming a day after a Washington Post story about Michael Bloomberg. And the Post story said this: "Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women's allegations of profane sexist comments" -- from The Washington Post.
I actually had dinner with a woman from Bloomberg the other night, and she said to me, Maria, it's horrible. I can't even get a step forward, they're so misogynistic.
I didn't realize it was that bad. But this article is bad for Michael Bloomberg. Are you sure this whole trial balloon of Hillary Clinton is just not to distract from this article?
BANNON: The timing of this is definitely to take off both The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Here's the thing about the Bloomberg thing, I think, is so shocking. And, once again, it's going to test the core principles of the Democratic Party, of whether they're going to have an oligarch come in and buy it.
They're supposed to be about the MeToo movement and Time's Up movement. And here's what you have. Different than President Trump's kind of offhand remarks, the locker room talk of President Trump, which triggered them and they went nuts...
BANNON: ... the problem with these -- Bloomberg's, it's premeditated and it's cruel.
What he said to these women about aborting their children, what he said to women about their looks...
BARTIROMO: Oh, my God.
BANNON: ... what he said to -- what he said to these women about the African-American nannies, this was cruel, it was premeditated, and it's over years and years and years.
This is not offhand comments and locker room talk. And that's why you're going to have a gut check with the Democratic Party to see, if somebody like this, that has had a history of this, can come in as an oligarch and buy the Democratic Party.
And the Bernie people ought to be outraged about this. It shows you that the Democratic apparatus and establishment has no respect for you.
BARTIROMO: So he's willing to spend up to $2 billion to take out Donald Trump. As you know, he has said that. He doesn't want any billionaires, though, by the way, in America anyway.
How much of a threat is Clinton, Bloomberg together against Donald Trump?
BANNON: Listen, any time you are going to put -- he said $2 billion if he's not the nominee.
BANNON: He will have unlimited amount of money to do this.
He has a personal vendetta against the president. So does Hillary Clinton.
As long as they don't get to the thesis of why Donald Trump won, which is return to greatness, and focus in on working-class people and middle-class issues, Donald Trump's going to win.
But I got to tell you, this is teeing up to be the nastiest, most brutal campaign in American history. People say it's the most important election. I don't know if it's the most important election, but I can tell you, it's going to be the nastiest and most brutal.
And I think the Trump campaign, which I think they're doing a great job right now, you have to go no -- no-huddle offense. Every day is like your last day. You have to play hard. Trump -- President Trump is going to win and should win.
But I got to tell you, Bloomberg's money, the Clinton apparatus, and the mainstream media selling out, remember...
BARTIROMO: Yes. BANNON: ... if the mainstream media had done their jobs -- for the last year-and-a-half, we have been told Biden, Warren, Biden, Warren, Biden, Warren. They're nonevents.
They're not prepared to take on Trump. They try to destroy him. They try to prop up other people that could take him on. The Democratic Party sold out to an oligarch. And this is going to be a nasty, brutal campaign.
BARTIROMO: And you said, this is an incredible New York story. I mean, Clinton, Trump, Bloomberg from New York, it's unbelievable.
Real quick, you -- we got to jump, but in terms of this coronavirus, now The New York Times reporting that Xi Jinping was on it early. I mean, they still went to the White House, as I have been saying, and shook everybody's hand.
BANNON: He knew it. Like you have been saying, it's a week beforehand.
And, also, Foxconn has announced, I think, they're not opening the factories tomorrow. On March 3, I think you're going to see a conversion of an oligarch and a virus. This virus is very important.
The president's taken great action so far. But I think people got to start focusing on the impact to the economy. The Chinese economy, I think, is imploding.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there.
Steve, it's always great to have you.
BANNON: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much, Steve Bannon joining us there.
Coming up, I will talk to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy next.
Stay with us. We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
McCarthy about to catch up with President Trump on fund-raising.
Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Breaking news this morning.
White House hopeful Michael Bloomberg is making headlines this weekend, the former New York City mayor reportedly considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate, after internal polling found that the combo could be -- quote -- "a formidable force."
The Bloomberg campaign did not deny the report.
Let's bring in California Republican Congressman House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Congressman, it's good to see this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Well, let me get your take right on that. Let's start there.
Bloomberg, Clinton, how do you see it?
MCCARTHY: It tells me three things.
First, it tells you that Bloomberg realizes he cannot win the nomination against Bernie without cheating. So he's going to bring Hillary in, because, remember, Hillary cheated Bernie last time to win the nomination.
The chair of the party had to resign the night before the convention because they were caught.
Secondly, it tells you about Bloomberg himself, that he believes he can manipulate democracy. Remember what he did as mayor. He changed term -- he got the city council to change term limits. He doesn't believe the 12th Amendment applies to him. He will just move to Colorado.
And, thirdly, it also means something different, the hypocrisy of Democrats themselves. They cry about money, but they took more than $100 million from Bloomberg last time to buy Congress. And what did it buy them? It bought them a new congressman by the name of T.J. Cox out in California.
He just got a $144,000 tax lien from the IRS. He doesn't want to pay his taxes, but he votes to raise yours.
You have got Bernie Sanders, who's a millionaire who doesn't believe anybody else should have money. It's just those three major things that is wrong with this Democratic Party, and why President Trump has built a strong economy and will win, regardless who the Democrats, if they cheat Bernie and have somebody else.
The best thing for their convention is have a pay-per-view, because it's going to be the most interesting fight internally and cheating that we have ever seen in politics.
BARTIROMO: Well, you know, it's interesting, because, within the Democratic Party, some of them don't want Bernie. We know that. Hillary Clinton's trashing him all the time.
Some of them don't want Bloomberg either because of all of that money. How far will that money go, Congressman? Because we know that he gave the Democrats 100-plus-million dollars last year, and it worked. They took the House majority.
MCCARTHY: You know, what's most interesting, follow the tweets of Michael Bloomberg.
He tweeted that he became a Democrat just days before he released the $100 million. Was he trying to buy a nomination a few years later to run for president? Interesting question.
And wonder why he did it. But what's interesting here is that the Democrats who are afraid of Bernie Sanders because he's a socialist, I don't know why. Speaker Pelosi has already surrendered to the socialists. More than half of their entire conference has already co-sponsored Medicare for all, socialized medicine.
Think also that they have a majority of them that also -- already supported a Green New Deal that would destroy our economy.
Well, let me -- let me ask you about your money, because GOP fund-raising has been going real well. I know you're going to be catching up with President Trump, and then you will travel to California. You're going to bring the president to Bakersfield, your hometown.
Got a big fund-raiser coming up hosted by Larry Ellison. What's the status in terms of your own fund-raising? And what kind of a reaction are you getting from donors post-impeachment?
MCCARTHY: The thing we're seeing most of all is the importance of winning the House, because if we don't want to change the House, they will continue to impeach this president.
Look what they just spent their entire time wasting this majority. And now you have Eric Swalwell, you have Adam Schiff still talking about impeachment.
If you want any of that to stop, people have to go to TaketheHouse.com and make a difference, because Michael Bloomberg will write another $2 billion check to try to not only win -- keep the House, but win the presidency.
The president goes out there to the American public, and he's setting new records. But what's more important, the record that he's setting is on turnout. Democrat turnout is down. And this president is breaking not only Republican turnout, but any president running for reelection in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Now, I have been able to raise some money, but the Democrats have set new records as well. That's a concern with Bloomberg writing $2 billion. If you want to stop this and actually have a Congress that works with whoever -- President Trump...
MCCARTHY: ... but, more importantly, works for America, you have go to TaketheHouse.com and do something about it.
BARTIROMO: All right.
Let me let me ask you about what -- the announcement you're going to be making with the president. You're doing a big effort around water. Your county is, what, the number one agricultural county.
MCCARTHY: Kern County is number one in value of agriculture.
And if there's anything that coronavirus should actually follow what we need, the security of our food supply, making sure that it's -- that it is grown in America, that it's safe and secure.
We have a real concern in California, because we send most of our water out to the ocean, and sending it down to Southern California to our farmlands in the San Joaquin Valley and others.
This president has worked greatly, using science, not based on politics, but on science...
MCCARTHY: ... to allow to have more of that water stay with the Californians and America to make sure we're securing our food supply as we move forward.
BARTIROMO: You -- there was a meeting that Nancy Pelosi had. She said that she wants the conversation to start shifting to the economy.
What can you tell us about that behind-the-scenes meeting that Nancy Pelosi led? Is she changing her tune to actually talk about what's important to the American people now?
MCCARTHY: Well, that's a real -- that's a real sign that -- the civil war inside the Democratic Congress. They're very upset that they have nothing to run for reelection upon, except impeachment.
And so they got together, and they said, what should we do? Well, politically, they said, we should go after the economy.
But another thing, they're continuing to lie about it, when we're flourishing in the economy; 61 percent of Americans are better off than they were three years ago. No president running for reelection has ever seen these numbers; 91 percent of Americans are happy with their life.
This is a real concern for the Democrats...
MCCARTHY: ... because they have 30 Democrats sitting in seats that Trump carried, and they're going to lose. And it only takes 18 to change the House.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, we will be watching. Thanks very much for being here this morning.
MCCARTHY: Thank you, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Congressman Kevin McCarthy joining us from Florida, soon going to California with the president.
Straight ahead, details, exclusive details, on John Durham's probe and the bombshell evidence that could change everything.
Former Congressman Trey Gowdy is here next live.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Attorney General Bill Barr gearing up to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. That's happening on March 31, after news this past week that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe has escaped all charges from the DOJ in its investigation of his lack of candor and leaks in the Hillary Clinton investigation.
Joining me right now is FOX News contributor former Republican South Carolina Congressman and former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy.
Trey, it's great to see you this morning. Thanks very much for being here.
TREY GOWDY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Yes, ma'am. Thank you.
BARTIROMO: We are lucky to have you this morning, as you are one of only two congressmen that were able to see the redacted information, two congressmen from the GOP that were seeing the redacted documents that were so important to both of those investigations, the Hillary Clinton investigation and the Trump collusion/Russia investigation.
Why do you think McCabe is getting off here from the DOJ? He's already admitted to lying, right, Trey? Is there something we don't know, that the DOJ is clearing Andrew McCabe?
GOWDY: Well, Andy McCabe is not being indicted for a very discrete fact pattern, which is simply the leaking of information to bolster his own credibility during the Clinton investigation. That's it.
And we should have known weeks ago, when they were having trouble getting an indictment. If you're having trouble getting an indictment, then there's no way you're going to get a conviction. You have seen a change in the U.S. attorney's office in the District of Columbia.
So he escapes indictment for that narrow fact pattern, but that has nothing to do with FISA and the initiation of Russia and any other potential misconduct that Andy McCabe may have engaged in. That's a really narrow, discrete fact pattern that he's not being indicted for.
BARTIROMO: So it could actually be that he's cooperating with John Durham or that he's looking a suspect in the John Durham now criminal probe? Is that right?
GOWDY: Well, he's certainly somebody that John Durham would want to talk to.
And it could range. It could go the whole range from he didn't do anything wrong -- and he did admit the misrepresentations. But that's a little bit different than intentionally misrepresenting or an intentionally false statement.
It could be that he's just simply not guilty. It could be that he's cooperating with John Durham. Or it could be that he is still under investigation for other fact patterns not related to that discrete one with the leak in the Clinton investigation.
BARTIROMO: I see.
Let me ask you about John Durham and what he is looking at now, because we're all waiting to see what's going on. And we understand that he's been looking at John Brennan's communication as well, then the head of the CIA.
In your view, what is John Durham looking at?
GOWDY: Maria, he's looking at three things, the factual predicate for this Russia investigation. And I'm not talking about the summer of 2016. I'm talking about stuff that happened in late 2015 and early 2016.
Remember, the DOJ and the FBI told Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes and myself repeatedly and exclusively that nothing happened before June of 2016, no payments were made, no contacts with the Trump campaign.
I'm sure John Durham is looking to see whether or not that's true. He's also looking at the FISA process and misrepresentations made to the FISA court. I think he's also looking at that ICA, that intelligence community assessment, that John Brennan got done towards the end of the Barack Obama tenure, to make sure whether or not that was thoroughly investigated and whether or not all the right information made its way into that ICA.
GOWDY: Three important things, three separate things.
BARTIROMO: And you were among those questioning a number of witnesses to try to get to the bottom of this.
You actually questioned John Brennan. And John Brennan told you straight out the dossier had nothing to do with the FISA process. We now know that was one of the single things they used, the dossier, to actually get those FISA warrants.
But I also want to show this counterintel activity timeline that we have put together here. And it shows that General Flynn was paid to speak in Moscow in December of 2015. And George Papadopoulos was invited to a conference in Rome in March of 16.
And then Mifsud, Joseph Mifsud, told Papadopoulos in April of 2016 that Russia had Hillary Clinton e-mails. The list goes on and on, April, May, all the way up to July 31, when the actual counterintelligence probe started, according to the FBI.
So what about all this other stuff happening at the end of '15 and early '16, that these are serious informants running up against Trump campaign people? How do you explain that, if the investigation started in July, Trey?
GOWDY: Well, thank goodness I don't have to. The folks at the FBI and the DOJ, they're the ones that are going to have to explain whether or not Michael Flynn speaking in Russia was something they were looking at separate or whether or not they were looking at that because he was an adviser to the Trump campaign.
I could not be more clear. We asked the DOJ and the FBI repeatedly, did anything happen before June of 2016? And we asked them, just as we asked them in a SCIF in the basement of the Capitol. And the answer was always the same. Nothing happened with respect to the Trump campaign before June of 2016.
And if something did happen, then either the FBI misrepresented facts to us or it wasn't the FBI, it was another agency that was doing it. Both of those are important to know. And John Durham, I hope, is going to be able to answer that question.
BARTIROMO: And, of course, if it's the CIA, we know why John Durham is looking at John Brennan, as he was all over TV saying that the president committed treason, when, in fact, he was running the CIA.
Perhaps the CIA was sending these informants in.
Real quick, before you go, Trey, I got to ask you about the exculpatory evidence that you have seen. You broke the news on this program over a year ago that there was -- you said that there was a transcript of a conversation between George Papadopoulos -- I said that, not you -- and an informant, where basically George Papadopoulos said to the guy, no, I would never do that. That's treason.
What else do we need to know about that exculpatory piece of evidence? GOWDY: Well, I want you to imagine this, hypothetically, Maria.
Imagine that you're accused of a crime. And this is your response. Number one, I didn't do it. So, factually, that's pretty important. Number one, I didn't do it. Number two, I would never do that because it is a crime for which you can be put to death and it is a crime against a country that I love.
All right, if that's your response to an accusation that you engaged in improper conduct, that is textbook exculpatory evidence. You really can't draw up a better piece of exculpatory evidence than, I didn't do it, I would never do, it is a crime to do it.
So, if that happened, then the court needed to know about it.
BARTIROMO: This is a little more information that you gave us, in so many words, that is that transcript that you have to believe John Durham is looking at and everyone is looking at in charge, because it wasn't given to the FISA court to get those warrants.
They said that two of the four warrants were unlawful. I'm putting my money that perhaps more than two of them were unlawful.
Congressman Trey Gowdy, it's good to see you this morning. Thank you, sir.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. You too.
BARTIROMO: We will see you soon, Trey Gowdy.
Still ahead, I will be speaking with Senator Tom Cotton on China's coronavirus epidemic. We have got news on this.
Stay with us on "Sunday Morning Futures."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
The Chinese communist government appears to be pushing a new account of events that presents President Xi Jinping as taking early action to fight coronavirus, according to today's New York Times.
But, in doing so, the authorities there are also admitting for the first time that Xi Jinping was aware of the virus before he first spoke publicly about it.
Meanwhile, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has been calling out China for its response to this outbreak, suggesting the virus may have come from China's biological warfare program.
The Chinese ambassador to the United States responded this: "It's very dangerous to stir up suspicion, rumors, and spread them among the people. For one thing, this will create panic, another thing, that it will fend up racial discrimination, xenophobia, all these things that will really harm our joint efforts to combat the virus."
Of course, there are all kinds of speculation and rumors. So far, at least 69,000 people have been infected with coronavirus. Over 1,600 have died.
Joining me right now is Senator Tom Cotton himself. He sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He has been speaking out about China's response to this fatal virus.
Senator, it's good to have you today. Thanks very much for being here.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Thanks for having me on, Maria.
BARTIROMO: And you were one -- you were among the first lawmakers to really raise a red flag on coronavirus, warning your Senate colleagues nearly two weeks ago that this is worse than Chernobyl -- your words, not mine -- that China has been lying about it from the very beginning.
Assess the situation, as you know it today.
COTTON: Maria, the situation is very grave, in part because, as you say, China was lying from the beginning, and they're still lying today, and also because there are so many unknowns about this virus, for example, how many people one person can infect once they have the virus,the extent to which it's contagious before one is symptomatic, or the mortality rate.
That's why I have been saying for almost a month now that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, to quote Benjamin Franklin, and why the president was so smart to ban travel coming from China just a couple of weeks ago, so we didn't have more than 20,000 people landing in our country every single day from mainland China.
BARTIROMO: Well, it's pretty extraordinary.
And then they criticized the United States for putting that travel ban in effect. And the fact is, is, they're criticizing us for the travel ban, but isn't it true that they have got people locked down in their homes?
COTTON: Maria, they have more than 70 million people now under quarantine.
And you have probably seen the videos online from social media sites, as have I, of the Chinese Communist Party's police beating people who they think might have coronavirus or trying to keep them locked inside of their apartments or quarantining them in large hospitals or what have you.
They have not been transparent at all. And they need to be.
BARTIROMO: And this is one of the issues, because you had initially the doctor who was a whistle-blower, in effect, who said, look, start wearing protective gear because we have got this coronavirus happening, he was arrested.
He was shamed in the press. And, unfortunately, now he's dead.
COTTON: Yes. It's a tragic story.
Dr. Wi -- or Li Wenliang, who was an ophthalmologist, who blew the whistle on coronavirus in early December, the Chinese Communist Party made him sign a statement disavowing that and threatening punishment.
He later came down with the virus, and himself has died, leaving behind a pregnant wife and a young child. He's become something of a martyr among the Chinese people, who, let's remember, are the first and the worst victims of the Chinese Communist Party's incompetence and dishonesty.
BARTIROMO: But, at the same time, we need to really understand why these diseases keep coming out of China.
I mean, we remember SARS and MERS, and now it's coronavirus. We have been told that this originated in an open seafood market, where you have got a market that you have got bats and cats and pigs and all sorts of animals all at once.
But there is also speculation that perhaps it didn't originate there. Tell us what you know.
So, Maria, here's what we do know. This virus didn't originate in the Wuhan animal market. Epidemiologists who are widely respected from China who have published a studied in the international journal The Lancet have demonstrated that several of the original cases didn't have any contact with that food market.
The virus went into that food market before it came out of that food market. So, we don't know where it originated.
But we do know that we have to get to the bottom of that. We also know that, just a few miles away from that food market is China's only biosafety level four super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.
Now, we don't have evidence that this disease originated there, but, because of China's duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says.
And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all.
BARTIROMO: So, this super lab that you refer to, this super lab is the only one of its kind in this area in Wuhan and the province that -- that area.
And what do they at this super lab?
COTTON: It's unclear, Maria.
We have such laboratories ourselves in the United States run by our military, in large part done for preventative purposes. We're trying to discover vaccines or to protect our own soldiers.
China's obviously very secretive about what happens at the Wuhan laboratory. We don't know, again, where this virus originated. That's why it's so important that we at least ask the questions and get the evidence.
But China continues to block our ability to ask those questions and get that evidence.
BARTIROMO: But in terms of getting to the bottom of it, the Centers for Disease Control wanted to go into China.
The U.S. has offered a lot of help, including sending the CDC in there to investigate exactly where this originated and how severe it is. But they said no, right?
COTTON: That's right.
The Chinese government has consistently blocked American scientists, who are obviously the very best in the world, from going to Wuhan, going to Hubei, trying to provide assistance to make sure that this virus is contained to the greatest extent possible, to discover its origins, to shed light on what that may mean for successful testing and vaccines.
But the Chinese Communist Party continues to refuse that offer of assistance from the United States.
BARTIROMO: Now, the Chinese ambassador called the notion of biological warfare -- quote -- "absolutely crazy," accusing you of trying to spread misinformation and panic.
What's your response there? I mean, we don't want to create panic, but, at the same time, people need to be educated in terms of what exists in this region in China.
COTTON: Well, the burden of proof right now is on the Chinese Communist Party and the ambassador of China and his fellow communists.
They have lied consistently about this virus from the beginning. So, we shouldn't take their word at face value.
And, no, we don't want to have a public panic -- panic, but we do want to err on the side of caution, when so much is unknown. And that is consistently what China has not done. By consistently lying to its own people and to the world, they have proven -- created a situation where we have not been able to take the preventative measures that we might have, and we have not been able to err on the side of caution.
BARTIROMO: And tell me what the downplaying of this has done.
In other words, the Chinese knew about the coronavirus back in November of 2019. They proceeded to send a delegation to the White House to shake everybody's hand to do a phase one China deal. They sent the largest ever delegation to Davos at the end of January.
Do you think the downplaying of this virus has actually exacerbated it?
COTTON: Oh, there's no doubt about that, Maria.
The first cases indicated in early December, which meant that they were transmitted some time in November. China finally fessed up to the WHO on December 31. If they had taken action weeks earlier, not only might their own people have been better protected, but the entire world might have been better protected.
This is just a pattern of Chinese dishonesty from the very beginning, which continues to this very day. Just a few days ago, we went from a situation where they were reporting only a couple hundred more cases or maybe 1,000 more cases a day to almost 14,000 cases in a single day.
That wasn't the result of any scientific discovery. That was a political decision to finally reveal what they knew to be true. Yet they are still covering up, in all likelihood, the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus inside of China.
BARTIROMO: And do you think there's anything that we should be doing here in America to hopefully avoid what -- what sounds like is a pandemic coming?
COTTON: Well, again, I want to commend the president for shutting down travel from China. That was the most important preventative step we could have taken.
It's very important that we empower our local and state health officials to test at the broadest possible criteria for anyone who's been to China or been in contact with someone in China who is showing any indication of the symptoms of coronavirus.
It's so critical that we do that and that the CDC develop effective and quick testing protocols as well, so we don't have a situation where people are infected with the coronavirus, but are told that they are not infected, as, unfortunately, happened just a few days ago in San Diego.
BARTIROMO: Senator, it's good to have you this morning. Thanks very much.
COTTON: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Senator Tom Cotton joining us.
We will be right back.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Attorney General William Barr expected to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, after the Justice Department's decision to overrule prosecutors and seek a lighter sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone.
Let's bring in Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is a member of the House Judiciary, Armed Services and Budget committees.
And it is great to see you, Congressman. Thanks so much for being here.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Good morning, Maria.
BARTIROMO: I want to ask you about what you're expecting from William Barr, when he testifies in front of your committee. I will get to that in a moment.
Let me just get your take on Andrew McCabe. Is he off the hook at this point entirely? I mean, my audience has been waiting for accountability.
Andrew McCabe, it looks like, is off the hook, according to the DOJ. And you say?
GAETZ: I think Trey Gowdy put it right. The Department of Justice didn't issue a statement saying that they were done investigating Andrew McCabe.
This revelation came as a consequence of the D.C. U.S. attorney sending a letter to McCabe's lawyer saying that, on the very narrow fact pattern of McCabe's lies, his leaks, and his lies about his leaks, that that wouldn't result in a criminal prosecution.
What I think is far more insidious is the conversion of a counterintelligence investigation that should have been intended to help the Trump campaign fend off Russian interference efforts into a criminal probe to try to delegitimize the president.
I obviously believe, based on the testimony from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, that the insurance policy created in Andy's office was precisely that effort to try to give people an effort to delegitimize the president both before and after his election.
BARTIROMO: So it sounds like you agree with Trey Gowdy that, yes, he's off the hook in terms of the leaks to the media specific to the Hillary Clinton investigation, but he's obviously going to be questioned or is a witness to John Durham, and maybe he's even cooperating with John Durham.
GAETZ: I don't know how Andrew McCabe wouldn't be central to the Durham probe, because Andrew McCabe was the acting FBI director.
And remember the text messages between Strzok and Page, where they talked about the need to open up investigations during McCabe's tenure as the acting FBI director, because they didn't think they could get that maybe in the future, if someone else were brought in.
So he seems central to that probe. I believe he should have been prosecuted for the lying because of the double standard. You see Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone all charged with misstatements, and then McCabe not charged. It sort of makes people believe that an old FBI business card may be doubling as a get-out-of-jail-free card.
And that's what we want to see the attorney general refute.
GAETZ: We want to see the attorney general acknowledge that there is still some swamp left to be drained at the Department of Justice.
BARTIROMO: And don't forget the Obama appointee, Amy Berman Jackson, she's going to be the judge assigned to Peter Strzok's wrongful termination suit. So there's that.
Let's slip in a short break, Congressman.
I want to ask you about, Congressman, you and your colleagues, what you want to ask A.G. Barr when we come right back.
Stay with us, Matt Gaetz.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
I am back with Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where A.G. Bill Barr will be testifying on March 31.
Congressman, some of your colleagues on the left want to impeach Bill Barr. What specifically are you and your colleagues trying to solicit from Bill Barr?
GAETZ: I want to know why Bruce Ohr is still working at the Department of Justice, again, getting back to the point that I think we have got a lot of the new senior leadership in place to have the Department of Justice, disengaging from politics.
But I think the mainstream media has really cast this incorrectly. They would suggest that Bill Barr has infected the front-line prosecution teams with politics, when the reality is, they were engaging in, I think, political retribution against Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and maybe, to some extent, George Papadopoulos as well.
I think Barr has reoriented those front-line prosecutors to the overall goals of the administration. And that's entirely appropriate, because they're all members of the executive branch.
And I think that we will see that in the questioning. What Democrats will do, Maria, is try to showcase some White House connection to the decisions being made.
But, if anything, the decision not to prosecute Andrew McCabe would exonerate the White House from any type of involvement in those investigative decisions.
BARTIROMO: Well, it's interesting, because the Department of Justice is now reviewing Rudy Giuliani's information as it relates to Ukraine and what he says is astounding corruption on the part of Democrats in Ukraine.
Where does that stand? And Lindsey Graham has said repeatedly on this program that this is a foreign affairs situation, where you have to have people like Hunter Biden and the whistle-blower and Adam Schiff appear at the Foreign Affairs Committee to testify, not the Judiciary Committee.
Which is it? Are you guys ever going to call these people down to testify?
GAETZ: I love Lindsey Graham. He's got a big old gavel in the Judiciary Committee, and I sure hope he will use it to try to bring these matters before his group.
I don't believe that this is a foreign affairs question, because it goes to the work and the decisions at the Department of Justice and whether or not they review these cases appropriately in making their prosecution and declination decisions regarding these particular defendants.
We have already seen that it was the FBI and Department of Justice infected with politics that caused this corrupt Russia investigation to begin. So, it only seems appropriate that we would want to improve that decision- making process through the Judiciary Committee.
So, go get them, Lindsey. We're all behind you and cheering for you.
BARTIROMO: Well, we will see, because he's -- I have asked him when he's been on this program, and he said, it's Jim Risch, his colleague in Foreign Affairs.
You're on both committees.
GAETZ: Well, look, I mean, I think that Senator Graham sought the Judiciary chairmanship, precisely because he wanted to help us continue draining the swamp.
GAETZ: I know Lindsey's made a great deal of mentioned about that work on his television interviews.
I think there are a lot of us in the House that would like to see the committee work begin, now that we have the inspector general's report to be the underlying document to inform on those decisions.
BARTIROMO: All right.
Real quick, before you go, Congressman, the Senate has passed the Iran war powers resolution this past week. One of three House GOPers to vote yes, you were.
Why? And isn't this a message, sending to Iran, oh, we're going to clip the president wings, while they continue to provoke this country?
GAETZ: Oh, that's nonsense.
Iran would never be free from this president's actions, as a consequence of the power he has under Article 2 of the Constitution and under the War Powers Act. He can act, even preemptively, to defend our interests, our allies, our troops.
But no president should be able to drag our country into another multi- decade war. And that's why I will be voting for the Iran resolution again.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there.
Congressman, it's always a pleasure to see you, sir. Thanks very much.
GAETZ: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Congressman Matt Gaetz joining us this morning.
That will do it for us on "Sunday Morning Futures."
Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Maria Bartiromo.
Make sure to continue the conversation with me. Join me this upcoming week on "Mornings With Maria" 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Monday through Friday weekdays on FOX Business. We will continue this conversation on FOX Business next week. And we hope that you will be with me as well.
Thanks for being here. Have a great rest of your Sunday on "Sunday Morning Futures."
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