Rep. Hoyer: There are still negotiations going on over border security

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 11, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: All right, Shepard, thank you very much.

These sheriffs have been meeting with the president of the United States.  He's going to have some comments before heading out to El Paso, Texas, later tonight.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto. And you're watching "Your World."

And in the middle of this fight over what to do about the wall, we have a sudden impasse over not the funding for the wall itself, but the facilities meant to detain illegals who are here in this country.

These sheriffs have been by and large supporting the president on the wall effort. He could run into some resistance when he gets to El Paso, the way he has described El Paso, as a city that was riddled with crime before a wall was built, and a lot of that crime just disappeared.

But ahead of that, what we have learned as well is that the president does want to sell his case that he has made concessions to Democrats in order to get a shutdown off the table.

But we're hearing right now that, because of other Democratic demands that have nothing to do with the wall, per se, he's kind of run into a buzz saw on that.

We're going to get the read from Steny Hoyer, the majority leader in the House of Representatives, very, very shortly.

But for the president of the United States, this is his first opening campaign salvo, if you will, some say of the 2020 political season. The president and the vice president now meeting some of these sheriffs, big proponents of tougher protection at the border, including El Paso, where the president will be leaving right after he finishes with these guys.

Let's listen in to this.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So, thank you very much. I'm heading out to El Paso, Texas, right now. And we are going to do a job. We're going to continue to do what we're doing. I think we've made a lot of progress.

We've actually started a big, big portion of wall today in a very important location. And it's going to go up pretty quickly over the next nine months. That whole area will be finished. It's fully funded. Construction, which I know a lot about, has begun. And it's a much better wall, much stronger wall, and a much less expensive wall than we've been building. And we're going to have a lot of wall being built in the last -- in the next period of time.

I'm with some of the great law enforcement people. A lot of them are friends of mine. I've known them for a long time, and they've been fantastic people. Fantastic men and women. And they know what we're up against. We're up against people who want to allow criminals into our society. Can you explain that one?

You know, most things you understand, but they want to allow criminals into our society. Convicted felons -- people of tremendous -- like, big problems.

I just got this from Homeland Security. And you look at this -- thousands of people. Dangerous drugs: 76,000 people. Then you have traffic offenses. That's not so good, but that's -- every crime. Assault: 63,000 people. Larceny: 20,000 people. Fraudulent activities, 12,000 people, burglaries, 12,000 people.

These, again, are just a different crime, robberies.

These are the people coming into our country that we are holding and we don't want in our country. And the Democrats want them to go into our country, that's why they don't want to give us what we call the beds. It's much more complicated than beds. But we call them the beds.

Robberies, 5,991. Sexual assaults, 6,350. Forgeries, 5,158. Stolen property, 4,462. These are people we're talking about. Kidnapping -- these are people that kidnap people. The Democrats want them to come into our society.

I don't think so. Anybody here who would like to have a lot of kidnappers left in our society? I don't think -- I won't bother waiting for you to raise your hand, right? Kidnappings, 2,085. Homicides -- that means murder -- murderers, 2,028.

I mean, it's incredible. Sexual offenses, 1,739. Just came out two minutes ago. Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security. I don't know, maybe we're in a different country than I know of.

And we're going to El Paso. We have a line that is very long already. I mean, you see what's going on. And I understand our competitor has got a line too, but it's a tiny, little line. Of course, they'll make it sound like they had more people than we do. That's not going to happen.

But we're going there for a reason. We're going there to keep our country safe. And we don't want murderers and drug dealers and gang members, MS- 13, and some of the worst people in the world coming into our country.

Now, Mexico has had the worst year they've ever had. Almost 40,000 killings in Mexico this year. One of the most unsafe places, unfortunately. We need a wall. And all of the other things are nice to have. But without a wall, it's not going to work. We can have technology, we can have beautiful drones flying all over the place, but it doesn't work without the wall.

Now, we need a wall. We can call it anything. We'll call it barriers. We'll call it whatever they want. But now, it turns out not only don't they want to give us money for the wall, they don't want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers. How bad is that? Human smuggling.

People think of that as an ancient art. There are more human smugglers right now -- traffickers, they call them -- than at any time in the history of our world, because of the Internet, unfortunately.

So, I'm heading out and we have a tremendous crowd. Like, tremendous. They have 75,000 people signed up. I think the arena holds like 8,000 people, unfortunately. I like the old days when I was allowed to make outdoors speeches. It was a lot easier because you could have very big crowds, John.

But we have a tremendous crowd. We have screens on the outside of the arena, so we'll have a lot of people coming. And again, if you look at your own newscasts, you'll see people lined up for a long way. A lot of people.

Sheriff, would you like to say something?

CAVUTO: All right, we're monitoring the president. He's meeting with sheriffs who are all urging more funding and support for a wall here.

And this was supposed to be not a foregone conclusion, but it looked like Democrats and Republicans had agreed at least on funding for some sort of a wall. It was a lot less than the president wanted, a little less than $2 billion. He wanted close to something like $5.7 billion. But they were there.

And, then all of a sudden, the dust-up over detention beds at ICE centers that has now threatened to sort of unhinge this.

Let's get to read from the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer.

Congressman, very good to have you.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Hi, Neil.

CAVUTO: Where does this stand right now, Congressman, do you think?

HOYER: Well, I think there are still negotiations going on between the two sides, between the two houses, and, hopefully, they will reach an agreement.

And, hopefully, they will reach an agreement soon. Obviously, we need to fund the government. We must not shut down the government, contrary to what Mr. Mulvaney said. Shutting down the government ought not to be an option.

But we want to see an agreement reached. Ms. Roybal-Allard put out a statement just the -- just a few hours ago as to why we were trying to restrict the numbers of beds.

Now, let me say, the president's statement that he just made is absolutely incorrect. In Ms. Roybal-Allard's statement -- she's the chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee. She said, clearly, they wanted to have sufficient beds to house -- to keep whatever criminals are elected -- or arrested.

And we think that that is the proper thing for ICE to do. Clearly, if we have people who are committing crimes, putting in danger either people or property, they ought to be taken off the streets and, frankly, incarcerated are held.

But we're talking about beds sufficient not to deal with criminals, which is what the case is now, but dealing with people who are working, paying taxes in our community, and our subject obviously to civil action, but should not be held.

CAVUTO: But you don't really know the numbers, right?

HOYER: Well, we know the...

CAVUTO: I mean, I guess the thing that has sort of raise concerns is you want to limit, I understand here, to 16,500.

Now, the existing gap is north of 40,000. I know it's kind of loose, and people have not really adhered to these caps, per se.

HOYER: Yes.

CAVUTO: But it came, from what Republicans are telling me, Congressman, just out of the blue. Like, you dropped that grenade in the middle of what looked like constructive talks.

HOYER: Well, Neil, I wasn't involved in the conference itself.

I wasn't a member of the conference. I don't know whether that is the case.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But would this issue, do you think, Congressman, be worth a potential shutdown on this new issue?

HOYER: Well, I don't want to see a shutdown, period.

I want to see this issue resolved and see the Department of Homeland Security budget resolved. But it needs to be resolved through agreement.

CAVUTO: But this issue came out of nowhere, right?

HOYER: No, Neil.

CAVUTO: I mean, you agreed on the broad blueprints. You got the president down to under $2 billion for a wall. It looked like everyone was inching toward that. This issue came up.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And now a lot of Republicans are saying, if we have a shutdown because your colleagues force this issue, it will be on them, not -- not on the president. What do you say?

HOYER: Look, Neil, we have agreement on six of the seven bills. We ought to pass those six bills.

We have already sent those six bills to the Senate. They ought to take them up, pass them, and...

CAVUTO: But you don't have agreement on this?

HOYER: Well, we don't have an agreement.

But let me say, this didn't come out of the blue. Miss Roybal-Allard, the chair, as I said, has been talking about this issue for a very long period of time. This is not a new issue.

CAVUTO: But it wasn't supposed to be part of this issue, is what I understand.

HOYER: Well, it's a part of the funding for the Department of Homeland Security and for the ICE.

CAVUTO: Right.

HOYER: So it is part of this bill.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But do you feel that maybe some of colleagues were maybe feeling a little bit emboldened by how they handled the first shutdown, that maybe they had to president on the ropes and that they could push something that no one saw coming?

HOYER: No, look, I think that one side thinks a wall and expanded money for the wall is appropriate policy. One side disagrees with that.

One side believes that, clearly, we ought to have sufficient beds to take criminals out of our neighborhood and take them off the streets and be dealt with in a proper way, period.

So when the president says we don't have enough bed for criminals, we don't think that's the case at all. And, certainly, nor does Ms. Roybal-Allard or the conferees on the Democratic side.

What we don't believe is that we ought to have so many beds that we can just randomly take people who are obeying the law, but who may be subject to civil action in terms of they're being in the country without papers.

CAVUTO: Right.

HOYER: But we ought not to have these roundups willy-nilly.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: A lot of some of the moderates in both parties, sir, have been saying, we ought not be having this added debate in the middle of what was originally funding for a wall, and whether it was necessary, how much it would be, how long it would be, et cetera.

HOYER: Neil...

CAVUTO: And that maybe this is your party emboldened to some of the far left elements who've been saying, at extreme, just defund Homeland Security altogether. You didn't go that far, but how do you answer that?

(CROSSTALK)

HOYER: Well, they didn't -- A, they didn't go that.

Some suggested eliminating ICE as an organization.

CAVUTO: Right.

HOYER: I wasn't for that. The speaker wasn't for that.

Clearly, we're going to have immigrants. We're going to have Customs. We need enforcement.

CAVUTO: You think ICE some value?

HOYER: Of course it does. It's like the IRS. It's an absolutely essential agency, as IRS an essential agency.

CAVUTO: So, when Congresswoman Cortez and others say that it isn't doing that, and it should be shut down, you say that goes too far?

HOYER: Yes, I think that goes too far.

CAVUTO: OK.

HOYER: But let me reiterate, this doesn't come out of the blue. This is not a tactic.

Chairwoman Roybal-Allard has been pursuing this as an issue of these large roundups in her community and around the country that are not related in any way to criminal conduct.

CAVUTO: But should this be a deal-breaker for a deal, period, you think, by Friday?

HOYER: Well, look, a deal-breaker? We didn't want wall money. We think that you need personnel, you need infrastructure, you need -- you need technology.

We were just at the border. And, clearly, those are all necessary.

CAVUTO: Right.

HOYER: But the fact of the matter is, the president wants a wall. OK, I have always said that that is probably going to be part of the agreement.

But to just say that's part of the agreement, but Ms. Roybal's interest and the conferees' interest in making sure that the people we're dealing with are the -- are the criminal element, which the president way, way, way overstates.

CAVUTO: All right.

HOYER: And the Border Patrol will tell you that as well.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I wish we had more time. Thank you very much for joining us...

HOYER: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: ... in the middle of this breaking news here.

The fallout from all of this and whether it could lead to a shutdown on Friday. Hard to say.

More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, so far, Virginia remains a mass.

The governor isn't going anywhere. The lieutenant governor, that could be another issue.

Garrett Tenney in Richmond, Virginia, with more

Hey, Garrett.

GARRETT TENNEY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Neil, Governor Ralph Northam says he is not going anywhere.

And despite the calls for his resignation, he plans to serve out the remaining three years of his term. And he also argues that the controversy surrounding a racist yearbook photo actually puts him in a unique position to be able to address racial inequalities in his state going forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I really think that I'm in a position where -- where I can take Virginia to the next level.

And it -- it will be very positive. And we have a number of inequities in this country right now and in Virginia. And -- and we're in a position to really stop talking so much, and now to take action with policy to address a lot of these inequities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TENNEY: Nearly every member of the state's General Assembly says the governor has lost the ability to lead. But you got to remember three years is a long time in politics.

And Northam is hoping that eventually the lawmakers will come around to work with him to get things done. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is also refusing to resign over a pair of sexual assault allegations. In an interview with The Washington Post, Fairfax said: "Everyone deserves to be heard. Even faced with these allegations, I am still standing up for everyone's right to be heard, but I'm also standing up for due process."

Well, this morning, a Virginia Democrat announced he is holding off on moving ahead with the impeachment process to try and remove Fairfax from office. Delegate Patrick Hope said: "The impeachment process is about investigating to find the truth. I am open to discussions on other avenues that would accomplish the same goals."

At this point, though, Neil, there's no clear answer on what other avenues are available for the General Assembly to investigate the sexual assault allegations, because the Assembly doesn't have subpoena power and these alleged incidents took place in other states -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Garrett, thank you very, very much.

So, can you impeach a lieutenant governor in this case for crimes and allegations that have yet to be proven?

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, that that's a slippery slope right there, Larry.

What do you think?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Will, it is.

And Virginia has no modern experience with impeachment and conviction. It would be a long, difficult, messy process. Now, I'm not saying they won't try it if everything else fails, but at this point I think most people have said, all right, let's have an investigation, whether it's by the FBI, whether it's by the Virginia State Police, whether some other police investigative unit.

People want to see what the truth is. The statements from the women are very disturbing.

CAVUTO: You know what's also kind of weird, no matter how it potentially sorts out? You could have the two white state officials, Ralph Northam and the attorney general, Mark Herring, stay in power, and the African-American lieutenant governor going.

I don't know how that is all politically digested. What do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

SABATO: I don't think it would go over, particularly with African- Americans.

Of course, the governor will get to a point, the new lieutenant governor, I suspect -- but do not know -- that it will probably be an African-American, maybe an African-American woman.

CAVUTO: So how does the state rebound from this? I assume that they get their act together or they can find a consensus on each and all. But obviously Democrats want to protect the chain of command from ever falling to the Republican.

I understand that. But would the state be more in play than we were thinking, that this state that was once red, turned purple turned pretty blue is in flux now for 2020?

SABATO: Well, we have got a test coming up in November, Neil. All 140 seats in the state legislature, both houses, are on the ballot.

And it's possible a new lieutenant governor will be on the ballot too. So we will have an early test, and we will see whether the commonwealth of chaos has settled down or not.

CAVUTO: Is it your sense that it has or it will?

SABATO: Well, it certainly hasn't yet.

CAVUTO: No, not at all. We still are having controversies all over the place. No, I think it's going to take a while, Neil. This is February. But I would be surprised if all this were sorted out by months from now.

CAVUTO: All right, Larry Sabato, thank you very, very much, my friend.

The border funding talks continue. And right now, they don't look too promising, or maybe that's wrong -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: You know, this almost got lost in the sauce today, but something very interesting.

The president signed an executive order a few minutes ago to launch something called the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative. It puts the full weight of the federal government behind efforts to develop artificial intelligence to increase our nation's prosperity and, as the reading goes here, enhance our national economic security and improve the quality of life of the American people.

Now, if you're scratching and saying, well, this is a big issue we have with the Chinese and our ongoing talks with them, remember, we have been saying that the Chinese disproportionately pour a great deal of money into that. And this is our response there.

If they're going to continue doing so -- and right now, there's no indication they're going to lighten up in that regard -- we're going to do so.

Now, critics of the United States says we're late to this A.I. party, that the Chinese are way ahead of us, because they have been committing billions of dollars to this, and we're sort of late to this.

So, this is more coordination of those efforts. But we will keep a close eye on it here. And whether this comes up in the trade talks that are continuing this week is anyone's guess. But it's China and the United States trying to dominate an area that is bigger than the space program was back in the '60s.

We will keep an eye out on it for you.

In the meantime, the fuss over what Steny Hoyer was saying as to whether Democrats suddenly confounded everyone and torpedoed what could have been a deal by Friday.

It still might happen, but here's what he had to say:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: A lot of Republicans are saying, if we have a shutdown because your colleagues force this issue, it will be on them, not -- not on the president. What do you say?

HOYER: Look, Neil, we have agreement on six of the seven bills. We ought to pass those six bills.

We have already sent those six bills to the Senate. They ought to take them up, pass them, and...

CAVUTO: But you don't have agreement on this?

HOYER: Well, we don't have an agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: All right.

What this is, is setting a number on detention beds that ICE, more to the point, can use for illegals and others captured. And they want to keep it at a ceiling of 16,500. Now, in some cases, that goes well over 40,000.

No one has been sticking to numbers of any sort anyway. It swings wildly from the high 30,000s all the way to 48,000 at some given periods. But there was a surprise that this was sort of added into the mix at the last moment.

Now, as you heard, Steny Hoyer was telling me it wasn't at the last moment, it's been out there, but, to my memory, never in these exact negotiations. But I could be wrong.

Someone who might know is the House Freedom Caucus member Arizona Congresswoman Debbie Lesko.

Congresswoman, very good to have you.

REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R), ARIZONA: Thanks for having me.

CAVUTO: Was this just an add-on out of nowhere, Congresswoman? I know it's been bandied about, about restricting ICE activities and beds that they -- at detention centers for illegals and what have you. But then it was mixed into these talks on the wall.

That, I had not seen.

LESKO: Well, it's clear to me that the Democrats care more about illegal immigrants than our own citizens.

And it's very disappointing. I mean, we had heard as late -- as late last week that they were close to a deal. And that was really good news. And now they throw in that they want to cap the number of detention beds, which sheriffs from across the country said would release dangerous criminals into the United States.

CAVUTO: Well, have you ever this argument, before, Congresswomen?

As far as part of these negotiations and the wall and funding I have not, but have you?

LESKO: Well, I have heard the argument before, but never as part of these negotiations.

CAVUTO: Right.

LESKO: So they just keep moving the goalposts, as I believe Tom Graves said they had done over the weekend.

And it doesn't surprise me, but it's really discouraging. I mean, we need to secure our southern border. I'm from the state of Arizona. And I know that there is a crisis at the border. I have been to the border.

And when Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say this is a manufactured crisis, they're absolutely wrong. The American people want us to secure our nation, secure our border. They also want to have us keep the government open.

Now, the president has been very patient in trying to negotiate with the Democrats. And they just will not come to the negotiating table. And when they do, they move the goalposts.

So I hope that they can get things done. I have heard that there's a meeting going on right now. So let's hope it gets done, so we can keep the government open, but also secure our borders. This is important. This is the number one mission of Congress, is to secure our nation and protect our people. Let's get this done.

And let's have the Democrats stop this nonsense. Come to the negotiating table. Get it done.

CAVUTO: All right. Do you think we're going to have a shutdown, though, the way that things are going? Because the two sides seem far apart, especially with this new issue.

LESKO: You know, I don't know. Time will tell.

I'm ready to stay here and continue working. But I have to tell you, when one side, the Democrats, won't even come to the negotiating table, and when they do, they change the goalposts, it's very disappointing, very discouraging.

I'm glad that we have the president that we have, because, quite frankly, if we had a Democrat president, this -- you know, our nation would be totally insecure.

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, thank you very much.

I'm sure the Democrats might slightly disagree with that notion. You never know.

Very good seeing you. Hopefully, we avoid a shutdown. We will see.

The president, to the congresswoman's point, is headed to El Paso, Texas. He ran into some criticism when he said the city was an example of a place that benefited from barriers, that they reduced crime. The mayor of El Paso was furious over that.

He's Republican. And he's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: Walls work, that's what the president says. He's going to El Paso to prove his case that, before the wall came up there, the whole city was riddled with crime.

The mayor disagrees strongly. And he's Republican -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime -- one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities.

Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: El Paso's mayor heard that, and he was flipping out, because the city was never as the president claimed, before the wall, after the wall. It's a safe place, always been a safe place.

The El Paso mayor, Dee Margo, with us right now on the phone.

Mayor, what did you think of that?

DEE MARGO (R), MAYOR OF EL PASO, TEXAS: Well, I was a little surprised, Neil.

As a matter of fact, I was sitting at the airport in El Paso waiting to catch a flight to Austin, Texas, and heard that. Of course, the end of his comments about us being one of the safest cities in the nation, it's correct.

We are, according to the uniform crime statistics reported to the FBI, the lowest -- we have the lowest crime rate of any city greater -- with a population greater than 500,000.

So -- but we were safe for many years. So it wasn't just a result of...

CAVUTO: So, the wall, the presence of the wall, when it came around 2008 or so, '10...

MARGO: Right.

CAVUTO: ... that wasn't a crime change. But what difference did it make, Mayor?

MARGO: Well, I think it's part and parcel to control of our borders as a sovereign nation.

But the primary change was, a physical barrier will channel people. Homeland Security will talk about that. But it stopped a number of automobile thefts and crimes of that nature from occurring. People were coming over, and then they would steal their vehicles and drive them across the bridge into Juarez, Mexico.

So that went way down. So -- and some of the -- and then neighbors in the Chihuahuita neighborhood have anecdotally told me they feel pretty safe with that fence there. So, you know, it has some benefits.

But the primary reason we had such a low crime rate were due to our police department and the neighborhood policing we were doing, so community policing. So, it was a combination of, I guess, all of the above.

CAVUTO: So, Mayor, you're a Republican. I mean, I don't know whether you will be with the president tonight. Will you?

MARGO: I'm trying to visit with him before -- before the rally to be able to talk about El Paso a little bit.

CAVUTO: Did you or your staff convey how upset you were after the president more or less said you were crime-ridden prior to this?

MARGO: Well -- well, candidly, Neil, I think what he was doing was echoing what our attorney general for the state of Texas has said a couple of weeks ago in McAllen, Texas, which was incorrect.

So he was merely echoing comments he heard from the Texas attorney general.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Yes, to be fair to the president, I'm glad you mentioned that, sir. He was going on that information. He can't know every city and town.

MARGO: Right. Right.

CAVUTO: But why overhype it, then? If it works, great, to your -- you're grateful it's there. But it didn't alter the crime landscape.

MARGO: No, sir, it didn't.

It had -- we were, I think, the number two or number three safest city before the fence went up. And then we progressed into number one. I mean, it was -- we were significantly low on crime to begin with and always have been.

We have been tainted somewhat by the perception of Juarez, Mexico, when they were going their -- in the early part of the 2000s and '6 and '7 and '8 maybe when they were having their drug wars and the cartels were fighting it out.

But we were never tainted with that. We were never involved in that.

CAVUTO: Mayor, thank you very much.

It's a beautiful city. I love its positioning too, because it's like next to everybody, but very good having you, sir. Appreciate it.

MARGO: Thank you, Neil. It's a pleasure being here.

CAVUTO: All right.

In the meantime, the Democratic field is growing and growing and growing. And the one common theme they have is obviously attacking the president, but there is something else that might boomerang on them that could help the president -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, 712, that's the number of Democrats who are running for president. No, it seems like.

This weekend, we were going live. We caught all of these announcements, including Elizabeth Warren's. And then yesterday, of course, you saw Amy Klobuchar in the snow and all. But it's an expanding field. And they're not done yet.

The read on what they're saying and the boxes they're checking off I was discussing during the break with Robert Wolf. Let's get into that with him. We also have GOP strategist Justin Sayfie and The Washington Examiner's Tiana Lowe.

To a man or woman at this stage, Robert, they're all in agreement on the big stuff, right, the big stuff being?

ROBERT WOLF, 32 ADVISORS: Health care is right, climate change, pro- immigration, and gun reform.

And all of them, from populist to moderate, have to check those four boxes. Then I believe it's who can best beat Trump. And I think you have to be a pro-growth Democrat to be able to beat Trump. You have to be strong in the economy

CAVUTO: OK, because, Justin, the immediate thing that raises is that they go too far with some of these big government initiatives and going after the rich.

And when I even heard that Amy Klobuchar was buying on to the Green Deal, there might be nuances in that approach, but it isn't cheap. So what do you think?

JUSTIN SAYFIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, yes.

If they -- if it's true that the Democrats need to have a pro-growth Democrat, they're going to have a hard time, because the progressives in the Democratic Party are going to pull them all the way to the left, more social programs, higher tax rates, Green New Deal.

Everyone -- payment for everyone who doesn't want to work, unwilling to work, as we saw in AOC's original statement on that. So it's going to be a big challenge for them to maintain moderacy, because they're going to get dragged all...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: All right, you're talking about Congresswoman Cortez on that one, who does seem to sort of be leading the direction, at least the fervor of the party, but not across the board.

Tiana, where do you see this going?

TIANA LOWE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Democrats are really going to find themselves in a bind if they do get too -- if they do get pulled a little bit too far left, if they don't have this Obama-like candidate who can get maximum turnout, because right now Monmouth says that 56 percent of voters just value a candidate who can beat Trump over ideological purity.

However, I think that we will see that change if Democrats decide that they want to run on these multitrillion-dollar spending packages, wealth taxes and estate taxes. And if you're just going to run against...

CAVUTO: By the way, Republicans are no stranger to trillion dollars' worth of spending and building big deficits and debt, right? So they're both pretty good at that, right?

LOWE: Yes.

I mean, there is a difference, though, between a $3 trillion tax cut and a Green New Deal that's going to cost in the tens of trillions in the first decade alone with no taxes to fund it.

CAVUTO: All right, we don't know the details on that, because, as you said, there aren't a lot of details on that.

But, Robert, I'm wondering about who could win. Is it your sense that some have a better network of support, donors? I mean, Kamala Harris' name comes up a lot for that, Beto O'Rourke, who hasn't announced, but might, as a sensation who can raise money, of course Joe Biden.

Any of the entrants there that I mentioned and others who could come in, pique your interest or have a very good shot?

WOLF: rMD+IT_rMD-IT_ Yes.

I mean, listen. I have been fortunate to sit down with probably eight of those who have announced so far.

CAVUTO: Is that right?

WOLF: Yes.

And Kamala and Kirsten and Cory, there's a whole group that's incredibly exciting. I don't think you can discount Vice President Biden, who on the national stage during the midterms was the number one surrogate.

CAVUTO: Do you think he will enter?

WOLF: My gut feel is this time around he's going to come in. I think he's ready to show that he can beat Donald Trump, but -- the president.

But, irrespective...

CAVUTO: I like how you say, by the way, the president.

WOLF: Yes. I want to make sure -- I don't want to disrespect the office.

CAVUTO: Gotcha. All right.

WOLF: But, irrespective of who comes in, OK, it's not going to be the far left vs. the center, because on these various social issues, they're all in agreement.

It's going to be at the end of the day, like we always debate, who's best on the economy and who's best on foreign policy?

CAVUTO: All right.

Well, Justin, the president obviously didn't accidentally, in his State of the Union address, refer to the socialist way of these, he called in and described it. And so he could be teeing up his approach to any of these guys, right?

SAYFIE: He absolutely is.

He's the master of defining the opposition. We saw that in the 2016 campaign. And you saw that when he mentioned socialism in the State of the Union address. And if the Democrats are going to nominate someone who's for the far left of their party, they can expect to have some of those socialist policies tagged on them and hung around their neck by the president with his Twitter feed with 58 million followers on Twitter.

CAVUTO: All right, but he could be polling better, Tiana. So he is ripe to be taken down.

Is it your sense that he's got to sharpen his focus, avoid the tweeting, stick to the big issues? He's been fairly big picture since the State of the Union. What do you think?

LOWE: Absolutely.

You see -- whenever Trump takes a step back and doesn't let the news cycle revolve solely around him, his numbers always go up. People like a good economy. They like the sense that we're achieving some victories in the Middle East. The general sense is that the country itself is moving somewhat in the right direction, at least in an improved way.

But then, when he makes himself the story, it does him no favors. We already saw after the shutdown his numbers have been slowly -- there have been mild increases in his approval rating. But he has to just avoid making himself the center of the story.

CAVUTO: And it is still early, I think, as all of you would remind me.

We have a lot more coming up on this, including some surprises on the tax refund issue, not because of the IRS potentially shutting down again, but the refund checks themselves that are going out -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, the media's really been fixated on this IRS 2019 tax refund show thus far that shows refunds on average are down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

But Kelsey Sheehy of NerdWallet.com, personal finance writer, isn't that a good thing, Kelsey?

I mean, that means you had more of the money during the year. So it's not as big a deal. I don't get it. KELSEY SHEEHY, NERDWALLET PERSONAL FINANCE WRITER: Well, one thing to keep in mind with those numbers, it's still very, very early in the tax season.

CAVUTO: Absolutely.

SHEEHY: And the sample size is smaller than it was this time last year.

So it's really too early to tell how this tax -- how the tax changes are going to play out over time.

CAVUTO: So when I'm looking at lower refunds, it means that the government didn't hold as much of your money during the year as you would have feared, and maybe the lower taxes did that.

But are now people coming to find out that, all right, I might be getting less back, that they're somehow getting gouged?

SHEEHY: Well, I think a lot of people are surprised if they are getting a little bit of a lower tax refund this year.

And one of the reasons that could be that a NerdWallet study found that 16 percent, only 16 percent of people went in and changed their withholdings after the new tax law last year. And whenever there's a big change, whether it's a family change or a change with the tax laws, it's good to go ahead and take a look at your withholdings to make sure you're having the right amount taken out.

Ideally, you don't want to have a huge tax refund at the end of the year.

CAVUTO: All right, Kelsey, thank you very, very much, all this breaking news just keeping track of this.

And, as she said, it is still early in the tax filing season.

Meantime, the publicity around the world's richest man going after a company tied to the world's most powerful one. Who is winning that powerful fight?

After this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, you don't try to strong-arm or extort, or whatever you want to call it, the world's richest man.

And right now, AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer, is finding out the hard way.

To Hill.com's Joe Concha, great read of media pressure, and then how you succumb or not to it.

What do you think of how he's dealing with this?

JOE CONCHA, THE HILL: I think this is unprecedented, Neil, what we're seeing here from, as you said, the world's richest man, $135 billion.

CAVUTO: Right.

CONCHA: Basically is sent a letter saying we have pictures of you, not from the waist up, that we're going to put out there unless you use some common sense and play some ball.

And what he did was, Neil, he pulled a President Trump. He went through the media filter and went directly to the people by writing a blog post and including the letter which this chief content officer of AMI, who puts this stuff in writing?

CAVUTO: I know.

CONCHA: Paulie Sorvino, "Goodfellas," use pay phones. You don't have a paper trail around this.

CAVUTO: E-mails, just do this and this will go away.

And I don't know. I'm no lawyer, but that looks pretty bad.

CONCHA: It does.

And he broke The National Enquirer's business model probably, Jeff Bezos, in the process, not with a pot of gold, but with a pen. I have never seen anything like it before.

CAVUTO: I wonder too what, Joe, what it means for those who are similarly pressured behind the scenes, we're going to do this, we're going to strong- arm you in this, maybe don't succumb, accept some embarrassing things that might get out there.

But people aren't talking about the embarrassing images or texts. They're talking only about this.

CONCHA: He comes out of hero in this, even though obviously he had a mistress. And these are some compromising pictures.

CAVUTO: Normally, this would itself be quite damaging to someone's reputation. But now we're focused on this battle.

CONCHA: And the rich and powerful will usually go to their crisis communications team, and then go to their lawyers, and maybe try to work out something behind the scenes.

The fact that he got out ahead of this is a lesson for every politician. You got damaging information out there, just be transparent about it, and people will forgive you.

CAVUTO: All right, now, he was pushed into this probably unwillingly that he knew that this first information was coming out. They were going to print something.

He, before it comes out a couple of days early, announces the separation from his wife of 25 years. And then they add to it with this. We understand you're launching an investigation into how we got this stuff.

But that turned the whole story around, his going on offense.

CONCHA: Exactly.

And by going and not doing it where he did an interview, say, with CNN or with FOX News or some sort of media outlet, but by writing it from his heart, by actually going and doing it on Medium, which is just kind of a -- you could just place blogs on there, and there's no editor to touch anything.

CAVUTO: That's what it is. It's like it's like a highbrow what?

CONCHA: Let's say -- I know you keep a diary. I have read it.

It's like as if you keep a diary, and then you just want to share something online. You're able to just write things without a filter.

(CROSSTALK)

CONCHA: What is that?

CAVUTO: It looks like all his writing, right?

CONCHA: Oh, yes, I would think so. Was it vetted by somebody? When I got $135 billion, I probably say, hey, you want to edit this for me?

But, for the most part, it seemed pretty authentic.

CAVUTO: I'm wondering too. You were saying about candidates who have got anything lose or you want to get clear, get it out of the way now because it comes back to you later.

CONCHA: Absolutely. Remember that with Barack Obama, said he did cocaine while he was in college. Kamala Harris just yesterday saying, yes, I did pot and, yes, I inhaled.

Elizabeth Warren does the opposite of that, right? She didn't get ahead of the story. She said that she obviously didn't use her American Indian heritage that doesn't exist to advance her own career. And, as a result, now everything came back, because there's always a paper trail.

CAVUTO: And, Amy Klobuchar, she turned this storyline that she's rough on her staff as, yes, I don't suffer fools gladly. That's the way I work for the American people.

It worked for her, right? But get it out there, right?

CONCHA: Mitt Romney, Neil, had binders full of women.

CAVUTO: Remember that?

CONCHA: Amy Klobuchar apparently throws binders actually at people, which could be painful.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But be honest, get ahead of it and all of that.

I think it was John Kennedy who said my father said he wasn't going to pay for a landslide, but to take the issue that might be your biggest weakness and turn it into a potential strength.

CONCHA: With every crisis comes opportunity, or something like that.

We're not electing priests. We're electing presidents in these situations. And people are willing to forgive the personal stuff. Just look at the current guy in office right now. They want results. They don't really care about the way he conducts himself personally, it seems.

CAVUTO: Well said. Well said.

All right, Joe Concha, thank you very, very much here.

Just want to remind here, we were down 53 points today, so the quest to have an eighth straight week of gains started off a little bumpy. But we did it last week in the final minute, so you never know.

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