Rep. Kevin McCarthy on GOP agenda, leadership fight

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," November 11, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good Sunday morning, everyone.

Thanks so much for joining us, as we honor all of our veterans on this day.  Thank you for your service to our great country.

President Trump just arrived at Suresnes, an American cemetery. We will get back to the president's speech momentarily.

Meanwhile, House Republicans facing a new reality in January, when they shift to the minority.

My first guest this morning hopes to lead the party in its new role, but he will face a challenge from Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.

Joining me is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in this exclusive.

First time we have heard from you, Congressman, since the midterm elections.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, thank you so much for having me, and especially thank you to all of the veterans who provide the freedom that allow us to vote and all of the service that provides all of our freedom.

BARTIROMO: And we're waiting on the president to make remarks from France. As soon as the president gets in place at that podium, we will take you back there live.

But, Congressman, let me kick off the conversation first with your reaction to what did take place in the midterm elections. What do you think went wrong for the Republicans in terms of the House majority going over to the Dems?

MCCARTHY: Well, Maria, if I can, right before we begin, I do want to thank all of the first-responders in California and all those firefighters battling all these blazes.

As being a son of a firefighter, I just want to assure them all resources will be provided to make sure we take care of this fire out there.

Tuesday night, we now face a divided government and a divided country. It's our job to put it back together again. There are a lot of reasons why some of these races were lost. I think we have to retool part of what the Republicans said we needed to do.

But a couple things happened that concern me as well. Money mattered in some of these races. The Republicans were outspent by $150 million, Bloomberg spent just some of these California races alone $8 million just in two that we ended up losing.

And I have a little concern even with your own network, FOX, calling election at 6:33, when California and a number of -- seven other states out in the West were still opened. Now we're finding from Utah and others that, after the election, some of these returns are coming back not as people thought as the election was going forward.

Did some people not vote because of that? We know this has been an issue for both sides. Back in 1984, there was a resolution passed in the House and Senate condemning these type of actions. We want to make sure everybody votes. And I always think that you probably should not call elections or change in an entire Congress before all the polls are closed.

BARTIROMO: And you mentioned that, for sure, a couple times now.

Let me ask you, Congressman. Next week, you have got the leadership races going on, first on the Republicans, as well as the Democratic side. Are you expecting to lead your membership?

MCCARTHY: Yes, I am.

Listen, we had to fight to win this majority back in 2010. I was a big part of that. That was a much bigger hill to climb. I believe we can win this majority back.

When you look at the seats we have lost, more than 15 of those are going to be carried by counties or areas that President Trump carried. I look at what the Democrats' agenda is. What is it? It's investigating the president, trying to impeach him, abolishing ICE.

America is too great to be led by such a small vision. And that's why I believe we will make sure that, one, our first agenda is to make sure we move America forward. Our second would be win this majority back.

BARTIROMO: Well, it's interesting, because the leadership on the left is very much what the leadership has been for a long time on the left.

MCCARTHY: It is the same old leadership they had before.

They are bringing back Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Clyburn. These are the exact same people that America rejected. And they never changed course. That's why I believe Republicans not only, if you look at we have been able to achieve, the economy, the strongest we have had in more than 50 years, rebuilding our military, reforming our VA system, stopping the opioid movement and going through, being able to combat that.


MCCARTHY: We have an agenda to continue and make this country move in the right direction.

BARTIROMO: Let's talk about the agenda in the next seven weeks, while you're still in the majority.

What can get done in the next seven weeks? And then I want to ask you about working with the Democrats.

MCCARTHY: Well first of all, we have a number of spending bills we have to get done. There are seven appropriation bills. One happens to be homeland, making sure we secure our border. We have got the farm bill out there as well.

So, a number of things, we have to work together to be done before the change of government come the beginning of January.

BARTIROMO: Well, you want to bring this bill to the floor on border security. Do you feel that you will have the votes to fund the president's border wall?

MCCARTHY: It's always been the case in the House that we do have the votes to fund that.

We have tried to change the immigration system. Everybody realizes in America this system is broken. Unfortunately, the Democrats in the last Congress, not one of them would vote for either bill, just as not one Democrat would vote for the tax bill in the House or the Senate that moved our economy to be the strongest in the last 50 years.

That, I hope, will change as we move forward, to be able to solve the problems that are still standing before us.

BARTIROMO: There is a fear out there that retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan will push an amnesty bill in this next seven weeks. Is that true?

MCCARTHY: I have no fear of that. Paul Ryan is supportive of securing the border and making sure that we have an immigration system that works.

Our challenge has always been on the Senate side. The Senate has not been able to produce the votes because of the way the Senate rules work, that you need 60 votes to achieve anything over there. That has been the challenge.

BARTIROMO: Debt and deficit worries have certainly become louder. What about the spending package? You said -- you mentioned the two bills.

Tell us about spending and whether or not there are any plans in place to cut spending, given the trillion-dollar deficits that we face in the coming years and $21 trillion in debt.

MCCARTHY: Well, first, you want to look at what happened under the eight years of Republicans being in the majority.

It's the history of government to always increase spending every year. When you look at what we will be spending, discretionary, that part that Congress has control over, we will be $13 billion less than we were when we took over back in 2011, the last time Nancy Pelosi was speaker.

If you look at those eight years, and you look at what Congressional Budget Office said we would be spending today, having eight years of Republicans, overall total spending, we have saved $4.3 trillion by having Republicans in control.

Now, we have got a lot further to go. We have got the economy growing at a pace no one thought we could.


MCCARTHY: And this is the best scenario to actually get us back to a balanced budget. And that's one thing Republicans will focus on, even though we're in the minority.

BARTIROMO: And, of course, the president will layout his budget come January. And then you will be working in a new era with the Democrats in the majority.

What, realistically, can get done with the Dems in the majority? You just said much of the platform on the left is to investigate the president. So what do you believe can get done legislatively?

MCCARTHY: Well, we will want to find common ground. We will look to make sure we continue to make our military strong, make sure that we can combat China and others of their aggressive actions and also, when it comes to trade, expanding.

We want to find places that we can find common ground, but those places that we principally disagree with, we will stand up strongly to show America the difference to make sure that we can continue to grow this country.

BARTIROMO: Well, you wonder if the president makes a policy mistake by agreeing to something like an infrastructure package, where there seems to be common ground, but costs $2 trillion, adding to the debt.

I mean, isn't it true that we're spending $1 billion a day just on interest payments, given the fact that interest rates are moving up?

MCCARTHY: Well, you look at -- with interest rates moving up, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, if we want to protect those for the future, we have got to be able to secure those, and that means finding common ground to solve the problem as we move forward.

Republicans have been very successful in these eight years of bending that cost curve on the discretionary funding that we have control over. The Democrats were not. We're actually spending $13 billion less in discretionary money today over the last eight years, the last time Nancy Pelosi was speaker.

That's a real concern to me, that they come back for their old ways, because, remember, they won a majority only because history repeated itself, not because they had an agenda that moved America in the right direction.

BARTIROMO: We're going to speak momentarily with one of your colleagues on the left, Congressman Cicilline, who wants a leadership position in the Democratic Party. He's got his races next week as well.

He's on the Judiciary Committee. And he has been very vocal about saying he wants to see the president's tax returns. That's going to be one of the priorities of the Judiciary Committee.

Your thoughts on how you and the Congress will deal with all of the investigations that are sure to come? Will the Democrats be able to stop the president's agenda?

MCCARTHY: Well, I don't think the Democrats are going to be able to stop this agenda, because look at how much we have been able to grow.

I know what the Democrats want to do, just investigations and impeachment. But as I have said before, America's too great for a vision so small.

I believe what we're able to achieve as we move forward is finding where we grow economically, we're able to secure that middle-class tax cut and make it permanent, whether we're able to continue to give raises to our military, whether we're able to combat the opioid problem in the future, and actually curtail this debt that we have that's going to hurt the future generations.

BARTIROMO: Well, I mean, how do you do that, though?

If you're talking about protecting the military, you're talking about making sure that those raises go in place, then you're also talking about cutting spending or getting that balanced budget back in place.

The only option left is to cut some of the entitlements, right, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

MCCARTHY: Well, the real fear I have is what the Democrats plan to do.

They believe Medicare for all, a government-controlled health care system - - this is what more than 100 of the Democrats have co-sponsored inside the House. That will bankrupt Medicare.

More than 50 percent of Americans get their health care from their employer. That will become illegal in the process. It would break the system that we currently have. That is why it's important that Republicans continue to put forth their ideas, their ideas to make health care a better quality at a lower price, that we continue to do this on a time-and-time- again basis.

BARTIROMO: Let me -- let me ask you about practicality in terms of the agenda, when you are working with the Dems in the majority.

You have been working on tax cuts 2.0. Does that go away at this point, given the fact that not one Democrat voted for your first tax cut plan?

MCCARTHY: I don't believe so, because it's already passed the House. We still have a number of weeks in session that's over in the Senate. We will continue to fight for it, because, Maria, it is the right principle. It is the right policy. And that should overcome politics.

We should put people before politics, and I will be excited to see the day that the Democrats want to join us with that.

BARTIROMO: So you say that the tax cut 2.0 plan, where the president wants to cut taxes for the middle class an additional 10 percent, and you want to make the individual cuts permanent, that will be taken up? You feel that that is going to be something that you can work with the Democrats to pass?

MCCARTHY: Well, before we left in October, we had passed the tax cuts 2.0 that made it permanent. So that is sitting over in the Senate. So there's still time for them to take that up in the Senate before January comes.


And in terms of practical success in terms of other legislation, what is possible? Can you tell us something that you feel you actually can get done in the next two years? You said you want to move the country forward and win the majority back.

MCCARTHY: Well, I'm hopeful we could come together on trade.

The president was able to negotiate an agreement with Mexico and Canada that put America in a stronger position. We will take that up in the new Congress. We should make sure we put America first, make our -- make these markets open up more to American products, and be able to combat what China is doing as well.

I'm hopeful that we could come together with Democrats. Any place I could find common ground, I will be the first one to be able to get there.

BARTIROMO: In that...

MCCARTHY: But when I disagree philosophically and on a principle, I will be the first one to stand up.

BARTIROMO: In that vein, there was an article in The Journal just last week, on Friday, that said that the new House leadership come January 19 will be able to slow down the president's USMCA. This is the updated NAFTA deal.

Do you expect that deal to be ratified, or will the Dems slow that down?

MCCARTHY: Only time will tell. I'm hopeful they will not slow it down, because if the Democrats slow this agreement down, it only slows America's economy down.

And I'm hopeful that they could put people before politics and look at what's best for America, more markets being opened up, more products of American-made going into other countries, creating more jobs.

Think about how many jobs we have been able to create with this new administration and Republican Congress. I'm hopeful we can continue to grow. I'm hopeful that the Democrats change from their past ways and see the success that we have and continue along that same path.

BARTIROMO: Well, it's interesting, because the markets and investors and most people are expecting that deal to go through, given the fact that the president ended the year saying that he has a deal with Mexico and Canada.

So that could be very disruptive if, in fact, that deal does not go through. What about a deal with China? When would you expect that?

MCCARTHY: Well, I'm looking for the president, who is going to sit down with President Xi in China, coming forward in the G20. I think that is very productive.

If you look what's happening in China, as our market has continued to rise, as our economy has continued to get stronger, theirs has become weaker. And this is really by the leadership of President Trump.

I think -- I am thankful that I think China will find it is in their best interests to sit down with America and find that they need to come to a fair and honest agreement, not one that we currently have.

And I think the entire world will be successful because of that leadership.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, it's good to see you this morning.

The president is about to take the podium, so we will go back to France.

We so appreciate your time this morning. And we look forward to the developments.

MCCARTHY: Thank you, Maria.

BARTIROMO: Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

Here is President Trump in France.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major General Mats, I want to thank you and everyone at the American Battle Monuments Commission for doing just an absolutely fantastic job.

Exactly 100 years ago today, on November 11, 1918, World War I came to an end, thank God. It was a brutal war.

Millions of American, French and allied troops had fought with extraordinary skill and valor in one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.

We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the brave Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle.

Earlier, Melania and I were deeply honored to be the guests of President Macron and Brigitte at the centennial commemoration of Armistice Day. It was very beautiful. So, well done.

To all of the French military leaders and dignitaries in attendance with us now, thank you for joining us as we honor the American and French service members who shed their blood together in a horrible, horrible war, but a war known as the Great War.

We're also joined by many distinguished American military leaders.

Thank you to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.

Thank you, Joe. Thank you.

Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley.

Thank you, Mark.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Curtis Scaparrotti.

General, thank you.

And Air Force Commander Europe General Tod D. Wolters.

Thank you. Thank you, General.

thank you as well to the members of Congress who have joined us, Ralph Abraham, Anthony Brown, John Carter, Paul Cook, Henry Cuellar, Richard Hudson, Bill Huizenga, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Rutherford, and Steve Stivers.

Thank you all very much for being with us. Thank you very much. I know you wanted to be here very badly. We appreciate it.

In the United States, Armistice Day is now enshrined as Veterans Day.

We have a number of amazing veterans with us today, including six veterans of World War II.

James Blayne (ph).

James -- where is James? James, thank you. Thank you, James.

Frank Divita (ph).

Thank you, Frank. Thank you very much. You look so comfortable up there under shelter, as we're getting drenched. You're very smart people.


TRUMP: Pete Dupre (ph).

Pete, thank you very much.

Gregory Melichan (ph).

Thank you, Gregory.

Steven Melnekof (ph).

Thank you. Thank you, Steven.

And Jay Trimmer (ph).

Thank you. Thank you, Jay. Thank you. You look like you're in really good shape, all of you.


TRUMP: I hope that I look like that some day. You look great.

America is forever in debt. And we are forever in your debt. And we really appreciate you being here.

We're also joined by another very special guest, a 13-year-old boy from the United States, Dave Matthew Haski (ph). Matthew is in the eighth grade. And he worked and saved all of his money for two years to make this trip to France. He wanted to be here in person to honor the American heroes of World War I.

Matthew, thank you. You make us very proud. Where is Matthew? Matthew? Matthew?


TRUMP: Thank you very much. You're way ahead of your time, Matthew. Thank you.

On this day in the year 1918, church bells rang, families embraced and celebrations, as you know, filled the streets like never before in towns throughout Europe and the United States.

But victory had come at a terrible cost among the Allied forces. More than one million French soldiers and 116,000 American service members had been killed by the war's end. And millions more were wounded. Countless would come home bearing the lasting scars of trench warfare and the grisly horrors of chemical weapons.

During the final battle of the war, over 26,000 Americans lost their lives, and more than 95,000 were wounded. It was the single deadliest battle in United States history. Think of that; 26,000 Americans lost their lives in a battle.

Here on the revered grounds of Suresnes American Cemetery lie more than 1,500 U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War.

Among those buried here are legendary Marines who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood. In that treacherous forest and the surrounding fields, American Marine soldiers and Allied forces for. And they fought through hell to turn the tide of the war. And that's what they did. They turned the tide of the war.

It was in that battle that our Marines earned the nickname Devil Dogs, arising from the German description of their ferocious fighting spirit.

John Kelly knows that name Devil Dogs very well, John, right?

Earlier this year, President Macron presented an oak sapling from Belleau Wood as a gift to our nation, an enduring reminder of our friendship sealed in battle. We fought well together. You could not fight better than we fought together.

Sergeant Eugene Weir (ph) from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was one of the Marines at Belleau Wood. Eugene raced straight into a barrage of enemy fire like no one has ever seen before to bandage his friend's wounds and carry him back to safety.

Months later, Eugene was mortally wounded. He passed away one day after Christmas. His mother would come right here to mourn by the grave or her precious son. She loved him so much.

She was one of the thousands of American moms and dads whose beloved children found their final resting place on the hillside of Suresnes.

Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior, great, great warriors, they are, who gave everything for family country, God and freedom. Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they held the line and pushed onward to victory.

It was a great, great victory, costly victory, but a great victory.

Never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones.

Here are the words of a young soldier name Sergeant Paul Maynard (ph) from a letter he wrote only a few days before the end of the war.

"Dear mother, I think of you all at home, and I know, if I am spared to get back, that I shall appreciate home more than ever, ever before. It will seem like heaven to me to be once more where there is peace and only peace."

On November 11, 1918, Paul died in the final hours of battle, just before the end. No, sadly, he did not make it. He was among the countless young men who never returned home.

But through their sacrifice, they ascended to peace in heaven.

Rest in peace, Paul.

The American and French patriots of World War I embody the timeless virtues of our two republics, honor and courage, strength and valor, love and loyalty, grace and glory. It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.

It is now my great honor to present Major General William Matz (ph) with an American flag as a symbol of our nation's gratitude to the American Battle Monuments.

The commission has done such an incredible job.

And, General, we very much appreciate it.

Today, we renew our sacred obligation to memorialize our fallen heroes on the soil where they rest for all of eternity.

Thank you very much. And, General, this is a great honor. Thank you very much. Thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you all. God bless you. It's been a wonderful two days we spent in France. And this is certainly the highlight of the trip. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the benediction, and remain standing for the playing of "Taps" and the retiring of the colors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now receive this benediction, please.

Mighty God, creator of the nations, as we leave this hallowed ground now, remind us that it is only by the gracious provision of your holy spirit that we live and move and have our being.

Indeed, as we have exercised our duty to remember, now renew in us your everlasting hope, that, from the fire of war, we may walk afresh in the light of your peace. In the timeless assurance of your holy word, I offer now a benediction.

May the lord bless you and keep you. May the lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you. May the lord lift his countenance upon you, and grant you peace now and forevermore.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Color Guard, retire the colors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is requested that guests remain standing while the official party and their spouses depart the cemetery.

BARTIROMO: And the president now departing Suresnes Cemetery.

We have been watching the president, his remarks on this, Armistice Day in France. This is the 100th-year anniversary of the end of World War I.

On this day and, tomorrow, Veterans Day, as we honor and celebrate our veterans everywhere, our troops currently at work, as well as veterans everywhere, a heartfelt and sincere thank you to all of them for fighting for the freedoms that we all share in this great country.

We're going to continue "Sunday Morning Futures" and all of this when we come right back.

After a short break, Michael Mukasey will join me.

Stay with us.


We have been marking Armistice Day from France this morning. We heard from President Trump a moment ago and President Macron in France.

We also -- before hearing from those two, we heard from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy right here.

We want to hear from the other side of the aisle right now.

Rhode Island Democratic Congressman David Cicilline is the co-chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. He sits on both the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, it's good to see this morning. Thanks very much for joining us.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Good morning. Thanks for having me. BARTIROMO: And let me start off where I started off with Kevin McCarthy.

And that is, give us your reaction to the midterm elections, your party obviously now in the lead in terms of the majority in the House. And you have got leadership races next week, which I will get to.

Your reaction to what took place?

CICILLINE: Well, I think it was a very good night for Democrats, a very good night for the country.

We won all across America running on a message to get things done for the American people, to focus on driving down the cost of health care, particularly the cost of prescription drugs, raising family incomes by rebuilding the country and creating 16 million good-paying jobs with a serious infrastructure bill, and taking on the serious corruption in Washington, the money and politics, and reforming our system.

So Democrats ran on that. We won in places like Kansas and Pennsylvania and Michigan. And it shows, when Democrats speak about the issues that matter in people's lives and have an agenda to improve those things, we can get elected, and we can win.

So I think was a great night for our party, a great night for our country.

BARTIROMO: Well, you heard what the majority leader said a moment ago, Kevin McCarthy, that the platform on the left is very much about investigations.

You have said yourself you want to see the president's tax returns. It's very much about trying to impeach President Trump, and not really a platform to move the country forward in terms of helping people. Your reaction and your response?

CICILLINE: Yes, I mean, nothing could be further from the truth.

Democrats ran on a very specific agenda. I helped craft it with my two co- chairs on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. It's an agenda for the people of this country. It's focusing on driving down the cost of health care, driving down the cost of prescription drugs, protecting coverage for preexisting condition, raising family incomes by rebuilding our country with a serious infrastructure plan for our roads, bridges, ports, transit systems.

We will create 16 million good-paying jobs. And taking on the corruption in Washington by getting money out of our political system. Those are issues Democrats ran on and won. That's our agenda. We're going to make good on those promises.

Obviously, we also have a responsibility to do oversight. It's a constitutional obligation. We ought to do it, do it carefully, do it seriously. But we are able to do both things. The American people expect us to move forward on the things that are going to make their lives better and, at the same time, hold this administration accountable and do oversight, as the Constitution requires.

BARTIROMO: The president has been pursuing an agenda to create jobs and get economic growth growing again.

We just saw 4.2 percent economic growth in the second quarter, 3.5 percent economic growth in the third quarter. We are seeing record unemployment numbers. So the economic policies have clearly been working.

But not one Democrat voted for the tax cuts. A lot of your colleagues complained about the rollback in regulations. Are you going to try to raise taxes?

CICILLINE: Yes, look, I think we should recognize the low unemployment rate is terrific news, and we should all celebrate it.

But the problem is, when you dig below those numbers, you see too many Americans are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Incomes still are not going up at the pace they should. And the fact is, that tax gave 83 percent of that tax cut to the top 1 percent, to the richest people in this country.

And now the Republicans are proposing we pay for that by cutting Medicare and Social Security. We can't do that. We have got to protect Social Security and Medicare. We need a tax cut for middle-class families, not 83 percent of it going to the top 1 percent, richest people in this country, and the most powerful corporations.

BARTIROMO: Well, I have got to push back on that, because 80 percent of the tax cut plan didn't go to the top 1 percent.

As you know, Congressman, the tax cut plan lowered all income levels, and they double the standard deduction. So that talking point...

CICILLINE: Maria, that's just not true.

BARTIROMO: No, it is true.

CICILLINE: Maria, that's just not true.

An independent outside group said 83 percent of that tax cut goes to the top 1 percent, the richest people in this country, the most profitable corporations.

That is a fact.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, it's just not true. You know it and I know it. Let me ask you...

CICILLINE: It is true.

BARTIROMO: Part of -- maybe you get there because the corporate rate was cut. Are you saying you want to have the corporate...

CICILLINE: That's right. That's right.

BARTIROMO: So you want the corporate rate at 35 percent?

CICILLINE: So, you acknowledge it's right...

BARTIROMO: Congressman...

CICILLINE: ... that 83 percent does go to the top 1 percent.

BARTIROMO: All right.

Congressman, do you want to raise the corporate tax rate? Is that what you're saying?

CICILLINE: Well, I don't -- what I say we have to do is, we have to be responsible about that.

We created a $2 trillion deficit by giving 83 percent of the tax cut to the top 1 percent. And now Republicans are proposing to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for that. That's not acceptable.

BARTIROMO: Look, I understand that you want to keep with this talking point that is inaccurate. That's fine.

CICILLINE: No, it's a fact.

BARTIROMO: You can do as you will.

CICILLINE: It's not inaccurate.

BARTIROMO: But do you want -- the question is, what are you going to do on taxes?

Are you looking to raise taxes? Are you looking to reverse the economic policies of this president?


CICILLINE: No, what I think we need to do is give a real tax cut to working families, to middle-class families that's permanent and longstanding, not giving 83 percent of it to the top 1 percent.


BARTIROMO: That sounds like what's being worked on right now, tax cuts 2.0. Are you going to vote for that?

CICILLINE: No, it's not being worked -- it's not being worked on right now.

That's -- we -- the president said it was going to happen two weeks ago.

BARTIROMO: But that's -- you just said you want to make the individual cuts -- you just said you want make the individual cuts permanent.

CICILLINE: I think that's what Democrats will do.

BARTIROMO: And you want to lower taxes for the middle class. That's what the president is working on.



I think what Democrats want to do is give a tax cut to people who deserve it, middle-class families, working families, and roll back the top 1 percent, the richest people in this country who got 83 percent of the tax cut. That's just not fair.

BARTIROMO: OK, so you want to raise taxes -- you want to raise on the top 1 percent. Is that what you're saying?

CICILLINE: No, I want to cut taxes on the middle class.

BARTIROMO: I'm just trying to understand what you're saying, Congressman.

Do you want to raise taxes on the top 1 percent then, or do you want to raise the corporate rate?

CICILLINE: No, I want to make sure that we have a tax code which provides a tax cut to middle-class families.

And if that means, in order to finance that, you have to roll back what you gave to the richest people in this country, then that's perfectly fine to me.

BARTIROMO: So, yes, she want to raise taxes on the rich, then?

Do you think that's going to impact economic growth? Isn't that going to lower what we have been seeing in terms of growth picking up?


CICILLINE: No, I think the way you have economic growth is you grow the middle class.

The way you grow the economy is, you make sure middle-class families have more money in their pocket, so they can buy the goods and services business produces. Growing the middle class is how you have sustainable economic growth.

This sort of trickle-down economics, that if you just let rich people keep more of their money, somehow it's going to trickle down to the rest of it, just doesn't work in the long term.

BARTIROMO: Clearly, that didn't work the prior two -- the prior 10 years before President Trump took office, because that was a lot of the talking point that was in place under President Obama.

And we never saw a year that grew the economy more than 2 percent for eight straight years, for eight straight years, actually.

CICILLINE: No, we saw eight years of sustained job growth, for eight straight years. We saw eight years of sustained job growth.

BARTIROMO: We obviously are looking at the tax story.

Let's take a look at health care. You said that you want to lower prices. How will you do that?

CICILLINE: Well, we have a piece of legislation that will allow the government negotiate discounted prices for -- with pharmaceutical companies to drive down health care -- prescription drug prices, bring more transparency to that, prevent gouging.

That will save tens of billions of dollars, not only for consumers, but for the taxpayers. This is a simple thing to do, allow the government to negotiate discounted prices, and save on prescription drugs.

The president has spoken about it. He says he's for driving down the cost of prescription drugs. We're going to give him the opportunity to show if he's really serious about that.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you, Congressman.

In terms of the oversight role, because you're going to have a very key role in terms of oversight, being a member of the Judiciary Committee, obviously, and looking at some of this oversight investigations that you mentioned, you want to see the president's tax returns.

We know that the Senate is -- the majority in the Senate is Republican. Is this going to be just a big waste of time, given the fact that we know that it's going to -- you're going to need two-thirds of a vote in the Senate, 67 votes in the Senate to get anything passed?

And so are you just going to be lots of bluster in the next two years about investigate this and investigate that, but when we know these investigations aren't going anywhere if they don't have merit?

CICILLINE: Well, of course it's not going to go anywhere if they don't have merit.

But I have a lot of confidence we can move forward.

BARTIROMO: You need 67 votes in the Senate. Where are you going to get them?

CICILLINE: I think I -- we have a lot of confidence that we can go forward on the agenda that Democrats ran on, driving down health care costs, rebuilding our country, and raising family incomes, and taking on the serious corruption in Washington.

We have independent responsibilities to do oversight. We will do both things. We don't need the Senate to do oversight. So, I hope that they will agree with us that that agenda about driving down health care costs, rebuilding our country, and taking the money out of our political system, that we can find common ground.

The president spoke about those three things as three of his priorities. He actually hasn't delivered on them, but he says he's committed to them. So we should be able to work together to find common ground and get things done for the American people.


Real quick, real quick, Congressman, before you go. Speaking of corruption, we know that there was massive abuse to the FISA court when information was not given to the FISA court about the Democrats and Hillary Clinton paying for the dossier, et cetera.

There has been this investigation in the Judiciary Committee, your committee, as you know, Bob Goodlatte leading the investigation of Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr.

Are you going to drop that investigation now, or are you going to pursue the truth there?

CICILLINE: Well, let me correct you, Maria. There has not been massive abuse of the FISA court.


CICILLINE: There's been no evidence of any abuse whatsoever.

BARTIROMO: Are you saying that they did not withhold information? They did not withhold information to the FISA judge in terms of...


BARTIROMO: ... dossier? Is that what you're saying?

CICILLINE: I'm saying there's been no abuse of the FISA court, absolutely no abuse of the FISA court.

We're going to be happy to do oversight on all the appropriate areas.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, stay with us.

CICILLINE: And we will do that in full public view.

BARTIROMO: We're going to take a short break. We have got to continue this.

Stay with us. Back in a moment.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

And we're back with Rhode Island Democratic Congressman David Cicilline.

And, Congressman, we ended there talking about the FISA abuse that took place in the 2016 election. We know that the FBI and the DOJ, that a warrant to wiretap an American citizen based on a dossier which was actually unverified and it was paid for by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Are you saying that was not FISA abuse?

CICILLINE: I'm saying that there was no FISA abuse.

And that warrant -- or the initiation of that investigation had nothing to do with the dossier.

We're in a -- this is part of an ongoing effort to...

BARTIROMO: What did it have to do with? Then why was an American citizen wiretapped, sir?

CICILLINE: It had to -- it has to do with an ongoing campaign to undermine the legitimacy of this investigation.

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the Russians attacked American democracy. They attacked American democracy. And we ought to take that seriously. And we should do oversight.


BARTIROMO: Why was Andrew McCabe referred for criminal charges?

CICILLINE: Well, I don't know that he was referred for criminal charges.

All I'm saying is, I have reviewed these materials.


BARTIROMO: Why have 20 -- at least 20 people been fired or reassigned at the DOJ and the FBI? You're saying it was a coincidence?

CICILLINE: There have been -- people have been fired because of the appearance of impropriety, because of some text messages that were made.

But I think this is an important investigation. There has been an ongoing effort from many of my Republican colleagues to undermine the legitimacy of this investigation.

Fortunately, some of them lost because the American people want to get to the bottom of this.


BARTIROMO: So, you're comfortable with an American citizen being wiretapped? So, you're comfortable with an American citizen being wiretapped?

CICILLINE: Of course not.


CICILLINE: I am not comfortable with an American citizen being wiretapped.

The FISA warrant was issued properly, by the court properly. And we have to protect the integrity of this investigation, no matter how much people wish -- no matter -- no matter how much...


BARTIROMO: The FISA judge did not even know that Hillary Clinton paid for the dossier.

CICILLINE: That's not true, because Hillary Clinton didn't pay for the dossier.


BARTIROMO: I mean, everybody on both sides of the aisle wants the rule of law, right? You want the rule of law, right, Congressman?

CICILLINE: Absolutely. We want the rule of law. We want this investigation to be completed. We want to know what the facts are. The American people have a right to know that.


So, just for the final -- just to put a button on this, you are going to continue that investigation then in the Judiciary Committee?

CICILLINE: The Democratic -- the House Judiciary Committee will conduct oversight on the many issues which have not been the subject of oversight for the last two years.

We have a 500-page document that details our efforts to do oversight that our Republican colleagues have refused to do. And we're going to get to work on that right away.

BARTIROMO: Let me ask you, Congressman, real quick, before you go.

I know that you're running for the assistant Democratic leadership position. You didn't have Nancy Pelosi's support the last time around. Have you gained Nancy Pelosi's support on this?

CICILLINE: I haven't asked her yet.

BARTIROMO: You haven't yet? But you said you will vote for her as speaker?

CICILLINE: That's correct. I'm running for assistant Democratic leader.

BARTIROMO: Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it. We will see you soon.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BARTIROMO: Congressman David Cicilline.

We will be right back with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

I want to bring in Michael Mukasey right now. He's former attorney general for George W. Bush and former federal judge.

And it is great to see you, Judge. Thanks so much for being here.


BARTIROMO: Your remark -- your reaction to what you just heard from David Cicilline?

MUKASEY: Hard to know where to begin.

The notion that there was no FISA abuse is ridiculous. The FISA court wasn't told the reason why Steele was no longer an FBI informant, which is not only that he spoke to the press, but that he lied about it.

There's a big difference in his credibility.

BARTIROMO: Exactly. Yes.

MUKASEY: Secondly, Carter Page, who was the subject of the FISA warrant, they had to show that -- probable cause to believe that -- not only that he was an agent of a foreign power, but that he was involved in the commission of a crime.

The one person in all of this who has not been charged with a crime is Carter Page.

BARTIROMO: That's right, after two years.


BARTIROMO: And you have got the Constitution right in front of you.


MUKASEY: Yes, the notion that there is -- that there is a constitutional duty of oversight, it's hogwash.


MUKASEY: This is the Constitution. The word oversight isn't anywhere in it.

BARTIROMO: Let me switch gears and ask you about this legal spat over naming Matthew Whitaker as the acting attorney general.

Your thoughts on this? Does the president need to get a Senate-confirmed A.G. in there as soon as possible, or what are your thoughts on Matthew Whitaker?

MUKASEY: I don't know Matthew Whitaker.

I know people who think highly of him. But that doesn't necessarily mean that he can fill this position. The -- there is a statutory authorization to name somebody who has the qualifications Matt Whitaker has. He's been there for 90 days in a senior role.

The -- under the Vacancies Act, he can be appointed. However, the Constitution says that the president can appoint officials, which is defined by Supreme Court cases as principal officers, only with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Matt Whitaker is not -- wasn't in a position that was confirmed by the Senate. There are people who were.


MUKASEY: Not only Rosenstein, who's got conflicts issues relating to the Mueller investigation.

BARTIROMO: Well, he signed off on the last FISA warrant. Let's not forget that.

MUKASEY: Yes, but -- right.

But Noel Francisco, who is the solicitor general, could be put in as acting, and he would be qualified.

BARTIROMO: We're going to -- we're going to keep following this, because this -- this is going to be real critical, particularly as the Dems are trying to investigate the president.

Will they be able to get his tax returns and create and perhaps impeach, impeach the president, based on what they have?

MUKASEY: Look, impeachment is a political act. And if they have a majority, conceivably, they could pass an article of impeachment.

Obviously, they need two-thirds of the Senate to convict. And that's not happening. Whether they're going to do that or not, I have no idea.

In order to get his tax returns, they would have to show that it relates to a subject that they are legitimately investigating. If they can, they will get them.

BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there.

Michael Mukasey, it was a pleasure. We needed more time with you this morning. We hope you will come back.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everybody. I will see you tomorrow on FOX.

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