Rex Tillerson on what Trump trip means for US foreign policy
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," May 21, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.
The president on his first foreign trip, while at home, the investigation ramps up into the possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the people and the rest of the world do not have the time to pay attention to what's happening domestically here.
WALLACE: We will break down the president's trip and what it means for U.S. foreign policy with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.
Then, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is tapped to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-NY, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: A special counsel was much called for in this situation and former Director Mueller is the right kind of individual for the job.
WALLACE: We will discuss the controversy and what it means for the Trump agenda with Arizona Senator John McCain, only on "Fox News Sunday."
We will ask our Sunday panel if Mr. Trump can use the appointment of the special counsel to turn attention to repeal and replace and tax reform.
And our "Power Player of the Week"," iconic singer Judy Collins on the inspiration for the songs that defined a generation.
JUDY COLLINS, SINGER/SONGWRITER: It was creative. It was exciting. It was music.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Donald Trump is on day two of his first foreign trip as president, meeting with more than 50 Muslim leaders and trying to build a coalition to defeat ISIS and to isolate Iran. All this while the controversy escalates over possible links to Russia, threatening the president's foreign and domestic agenda. We’ll drill down on both stories this hour, speaking in a few minutes with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and later with Senator John McCain.
But, first, let's bring in the anchor of "Special Report", Bret Baier, who is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the latest on the president's trip -- Bret.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS "SPECIAL REPORT" ANCHOR: Chris, in the second day, in the home of Islam's holiest sites, President Trump is calling terrorist barbaric criminals who must be stopped by a new U.S.-Muslim coalition, which he says starts here on ancient soil.
BAIER: Saying he's not here to lecture, President Trump address of the leaders of more than 50 Muslim majority countries, casting the fight against terrorism as a battle between good and evil. A marquee speech on Islam calling for cooperation, in a much softer tone than his campaign, the president has yet to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism."
From Arab leaders in meetings Sunday morning --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me say that you have a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.
TRUMP: I agree.
BAIER: Talk of new relationships.
TRUMP: There won’t be strain with this administration.
BAIER: And new arms deals.
TRUMP: Nobody makes it like the United States.
BAIER: The Saudis pledged to buy $350 billion of U.S. military equipment and weapons over ten years and more than $160 billion of Saudi investment in U.S. companies this year. President Trump's first foreign stop has been filled with foreign pageantry, a stark contrast to the Saudi trips by President Obama, who was never greeted at the airport by the king and had a chilly relationship, largely over his administration’s dealings with Iran.
This trip, the Saudis are already dancing in step.
BAIER: Later, President Trump, known for his use of Twitter, will speak here at a conference designed to stamp out extremism using social media. You know, this trip was planned long ago but senior aides say they could not have asked for more in this first top than the Saudis’ warm embrace, which is something else to talk about back home -- Chris.
WALLACE: Bret Baier reporting from Riyadh -- Bret, thanks for that.
And joining us now from Saudi Arabia is the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Mr. Secretary, President Trump is urging Muslim leaders to join the, quote, "battle between good and evil". He’s opening a center against extremism today. Muslim leaders are pledging to cut off funding to radicals.
But the question I have is, is this just talk? Or are there some real teeth there, concrete measures that will help us destroy ISIS and Al Qaeda and to stop the flow of new recruits?
TILLERSON: Chris, I think it is historical, what’s happening here in Riyadh, under the king’s leadership, his convening of the GCC council this morning, where we had a very productive discussion on this subject of how to counter terrorism, how to defeat Daesh, and how to bring stability -- greater stability to the region. And, of course, this afternoon he’ll deliver his important message to the convening of the Arab Summit -- again, Arab nations, Muslim nations, from the around the world.
And I think what’s the output of this, Chris, are some framework agreements that are really going to guide the actions going forward, but there are concrete commitments being made as to how we will work together to defeat Daesh, to defeat terrorism here in the region and as well as elsewhere.
I think the other thing that’s important is there’s also agreement to continue this dialogue; it doesn’t end here. There is a commitment to have another GCC summit with the U.S. a year from now. And one of the expectations is we will be measuring our project -- our progress towards the initiatives and agreements that were signed here. And we will be looking for concrete results by which to measure each country’s commitments.
WALLACE: We should point out GCC is the Gulf Council of Nations. During the campaign, sir, Candidate Trump had some tough things to say. Here he is on the Muslim religion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There’s something -- there’s something there that’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: And here he is talking about Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You talk about women and women’s rights? So these are people that push gays off business, off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Given that past rhetoric, why should Muslim leaders trust Mr. Trump now? And on the other hand, if the president is so concerned about human rights, why isn’t he talking about it publicly this weekend?
TILLERSON: Well, Chris, I think this is one of the great attributes of this president, is that he is willing to call issues out, confront them, speak very plainly and bluntly about them. And in many ways that motivates these countries to want to understand why the feelings in the U.S. are the way they are, but also to engage, to address those. And I think that’s what we are seeing in this visit to Riyadh, this visit to the country that is the custodian of the two holy mosques.
And the president himself has said he has learned a lot on this trip, and he’s learned a lot about the people, he’s learned a lot about their culture. And I think this is an -- it’s a really important process in terms of how we move forward with this relationship between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world.
And I think there’s great recognition among all the leaders of the Muslim world that they have to take responsibility for what has happened in many respects. And they are taking responsibility. And they’re ready to join with us and other nations in confronting this terrible face of terrorism.
WALLACE: But -- but, sir, I’ve seen a draft of the president’s speech, the big speech this afternoon. Not a mention of human rights, not a mention of women’s rights. You say he wants to speak concretely and frankly about these things -- he’s not doing that today.
TILLERSON: Well, Chris, I think the way you address those human rights issues and women’s rights issues is to improve the conditions in the region. And today conditions in the region are under a lot of stress because of the threat of terrorism, the threat that Iran poses to instability in the region. And these subjects are being discussed as well, and there are efforts under way to, I think, improve the rights of women, the participation of women in society throughout the region.
But, you know, the primary reason we’re here today is to confront this threat of terrorism. If we do not defeat Daesh, if we do not defeat these forces of evil, there will be no conditions under which we can even hope to improve the human rights for all of the people in the region.
WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, you were in the Oval Office when the president met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on May 10th, and according to the official summary, the president told Lavrov: I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut ob. I face great pressure because of Russia, that’s taken off.
My question to you, sir, as someone who was in that meeting -- was he telling the Russians that firing Comey was taking off legal and political pressure?
TILLERSON: Chris, that’s not my -- my interpretation, certainly, of the conversation. And I think what the president was trying to convey to the Russians is, look, I’m not going to be distracted by this -- all these issues that are here at home, they -- that, you know, affect us domestically. I’m not going to let that distract from our efforts to see if we can engage with you, engage with Russia, and identify areas where we might be able to work together. The president I think reemphasized the message to the Russians that the relationship is at a low point and we need to change that, we need to both work towards trying to improve that.
So I think the point he was making is I’m not going to be distracted by those things that are happening here at home, nor let them get in the way of the important work of engaging Russia to see what can be done to improve this relationship.
WALLACE: But, sir, he seemed to be saying that firing Comey would help remove one of the distractions.
TILLERSON: I -- Chris, I just didn’t -- my takeaway from that conversation was not that point at all. I think, again, the president was simply saying to the Russians these issues at home are not going to get in the way of my effort and the effort of my government to see if we can find a way to move this relationship forward.
WALLACE: You said this week in Washington that you don’t think that foreign leaders around the world care about what’s going on in Washington with regard to the president. Here you are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLERSON: I think the people in the rest of the world take -- do not have the time to pay attention to what’s happening domestically here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: I have to ask you, Mr. Secretary, do you really believe that? Because I got to tell you that ambassadors that I talk to here in Washington are deeply concerned with the investigation into the president and question, wonder, whether it’s going to somehow prevent the U.S. from meeting its challenges around the world.
TILLERSON: Well, Chris, I think all you have to do is watch the footage of your coverage of the president on this historic visit to the king of Saudi Arabia, which of course now we’re convening nations from throughout the region, including Africa. There’s an enormous amount of enthusiasm for the initiative that’s being taken by the president on this particular issue. And, of course, the subsequent legs of this trip, to Tel Aviv, and then to Rome and to the Vatican, the audience with the Pope.
My encounter with my counterparts, foreign ministers but I would also say heads of state, these are -- these are not the issues that are on their mind. The issues that are on their minds are security issues, economic issues, the issues of common interest to both of our countries. That’s what they want to talk about when I’m with them. And these domestic issues just simply never come up in our discussions.
WALLACE: In the time we have left, sir, and this is your first time on "Fox News Sunday", so I’ll introduce you to something which I hope you’ll do with us again -- a lightning round. Quick questions, quick answers, on various on hotspots around the world.
There was an -- excuse me -- an ugly incident in Washington this week where Turkish President Erdogan looked on while his security beat and kicked peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence.
Question, sir -- are you going to do anything about that?
TILLERSON: Well, we did call the ambassador of Turkey into the State Department to discuss what occurred with them and express our view that this is simply unacceptable. There is an ongoing investigation, Chris, and I think we’ll wait and see what the outcome of that investigation is. But we have expressed our dismay at what occurred at the Turkish embassy.
WALLACE: Well, beyond expressing dismay, Senator McCain says that you should expel the Turkish ambassador.
TILLERSON: Chris, I think we need to let the investigation conclude before we come to any decisions such as that.
WALLACE: As I’m sure you know, North Korea tested yet another ballistic missile today. Isn’t that one more indication that the new get tough policy of this administration, the end of strategic patience, isn’t working?
TILLERSON: No, Chris, I wouldn’t -- that would not be my takeaway at all. We’re early in the stages of applying the economic pressure as well as the diplomatic pressure to the regime in North Korea. Hopefully, they will get the message that the pathway of continuing their nuclear arms program is not a pathway to security or certainly prosperity.
The ongoing testing is disappointing, it’s disturbing, and we ask that they cease that, because until they cease that testing, clearly they have not changed their view. But I think we’re early into the game of putting pressure on them. And one could also interpret that perhaps they’re just acting out now in response to some of this pressure that I believe they’re beginning to feel.
WALLACE: Do any of the agreements that are being made this weekend with Sunni, Arab, and Muslim nations -- do any of them help the United States in the effort to contain Iran and its regional expansion?
TILLERSON: Well, Chris, I think certainly the kind of security arrangements -- obviously there were significant new arms sales packages were announced yesterday with the kingdom, but there are also sales going on to other important countries in the region. This strengthens the overall security posture of the Gulf and the Arab nations in particular, and I think makes it clear to Iran that we, the United States, will stand with our partners here in the region to counter Iran’s hegemony. Any aspirations Iran has for putting pressure on these countries will be met by a strong and unified front.
WALLACE: Finally, sir, we all got to see -- I don’t know that you’ve gotten a chance to see it -- but we all got to see the video yesterday of you participating in that traditional Arab sword dance. And I have to tell you, you look pretty good while you were doing it. Frankly, more comfortable than the president or Commerce Secretary Ross.
Had you been practicing, sir?
TILLERSON: Well, I hadn’t been practicing, Chris, but it was not my first sword dance.
WALLACE: Why? Have you experienced in the Middle East?
TILLERSON: Well, I’ve been in the Middle East for many, many years, Chris, and not just in the kingdom but throughout the region. This was just a -- such a wonderful welcome for the president last night. The spirit, the fun that was going on in the air, it was very contagious for all of us. And I think just the pure joy that you see on the faces of the people here in Saudi Arabia, but also what we’re hearing throughout the region, with the president’s visit, the importance of it, and I think great hope that this brings to them that something is finally going to be done to confront these faces of terrorism and the destabilizing forces in the region.
WALLACE: Secretary Tillerson, I think I can safely say that it’s the first time we’ve ever heard on "Fox News Sunday" -- this is not my first sword dance. We want to thank you. Thanks for your time today. And safe travels, sir.
TILLERSON: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss President Trump’s ambitious first overseas trip and what he hopes to accomplish on the world stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They buy tremendous amounts of our military equipment and they invest in the United States. And that's what we like to hear. We like to hear about jobs. Jobs, jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia today, busy making deals with Arab leaders.
And it's time now for our Sunday group, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, columnist for The Hill, Juan Williams, former Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and Kimberley Strassel from The Wall Street Journal.
Well, Congresswoman Harman, what do you of this president’s trip to Saudi Arabia so far, we’re in day two, and of the effort that he’s making to try to unite the Muslim world against radical extremism?
JANE HARMAN, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, we have one president at a time and this is our president and I want this president to be successful on the trip.
And so far, he is being successful. It's a little too much pageantry for my taste, I’m sure he loves it. And the messaging helps Saudi Arabia as much or more than it helps us.
But we are in the Middle East. I love the idea that he's going to the fount of all three major religions. And I think if he is able to deliver a message that is a little more nuanced than just Iran is terrible, that will be very helpful.
Just one last point, Chris, and that is that ISIS and most of these terror groups are Sunni Arabs. The Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are Sunni Arabs. So, it's not just attacking Shia Arabs. It's more about defeating the idea of terrorism. And I hope his speech and his activities address that.
WALLACE: Well, I’ve seen a first draft of the speech that is very much that. The people that have suffered the most from this kind of Sunni Arab extremism are Sunni Arabs, the Muslims, who were getting killed in that part of the world.
You know, though, Kim, we've seen other presidents make this kind of effort to try to unite the Muslim world against the savages. They get lip service but then behind the scenes, a lot of these Muslim leaders, whether it's for payouts or for whatever reason, continued to fund radicalism.
What makes you think this time will be any different?
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: So, I think what makes it different is eight years of a lack of leadership from the Obama administration in which things really disintegrated there. So, what we see is all of these countries attending the summit have come to understand that allowing Iran to get -- move toward nuclear weapons has also allowed them to begin meddling more in all of these other countries through surrogates, whether it’s in Yemen, whether it’s in Syria, this has caused problems for all of the Gulf region.
So, they now have a renewed interest in actually -- from their own self interest -- in doing something and working with Donald Trump. And that I think is a chance for a reset and that's why it might be different.
WALLACE: Brit, what strikes me about this trip on a larger overview level is just how ambitious it is. The president, as Jane mentioned, going to the centers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, then engaging with our NATO and economic partners, and the word that White House officials were using in a briefing they held for us this week, especially about the first part of the trip in Saudi Arabia and Israel and the Vatican is historic. I got to say, I don't think that's an overstatement.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, but every presidential visit overseas is historic. And when chronicles of presidencies are written in foreign visits, dealing with foreign leaders are always a part of it. And this is -- this is unmistakably the stuff of the presidency. No other official in this country has responsibility for foreign policy the way a president does.
So, this is -- no question about it -- a very big deal, and the principal purposes here are very big deals as well, first is to try to strengthen Saudi Arabia as a bulwark against the growth of Iran's power and second, of course, the big 50 states plus meeting to try to form a stronger coalition against terrorism.
WALLACE: Fifty Muslim nations.
HUME: Fifty Muslim nations, that's right, against terrorism. And they are bringing the Muslim world, or most of it, together for that purpose, it's a useful thing. There's a lot of detail here, Chris. For example, you look at Saudi Arabia even as the president was going there for this purpose, the United States proposed the U.N. to add a Saudi-based addition, if you will, of ISIS to -- though subject to sanctions.
WALLACE: In effect, the Saudi chapter of ISIS.
HUME: The Saudi chapter of ISIS and the Saudis, through other countries, blocked that. So, there's always a lot of detail work to be done and that’s often where the devil lies. But he purpose here is significant and he seems to be off to a very good start.
WALLACE: Juan, I want to pick up on something that Kim said because the administration, not surprisingly, is emphasizing how different this president’s approach to foreign policy is from Barack Obama's and what they say is the key is not to preach, not to lecture on -- especially on human rights, especially in public, and rather instead to be more transactional and to try to make deals and get results.
Do you think that makes sense or no?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I’m just a little taken aback because you can say that we’re emphasizing deals, not diplomacy. But remember, not only President Obama but President George W. Bush, made arms deals with the Saudis and they didn't all get those hosannas and plaudits, it was just part of the deal, that's what you're doing.
And so, when you talk about President Trump emphasizing jobs and deals, it comes at some cost to us because the lack of human rights attention, the lack of understanding that the Saudis are implicated, everything from 9/11 to this support for the Wahhabis, the radical Islam, to the madrassas. They preach hatred of Israel and Jews and hatred of Shia.
I don't understand how you can say we will just do the sword dance that you were talking about with Secretary Tillerson. It seems to me they are flattering President Trump, they are appealing to his ego. But it does not speak to the central issue on the table, which is -- are you going to change your behavior?
STRASSEL: Well, the purpose of this trip is to be over there talking about the terror threat, and they are addressing this. Look, I think it was quite an amazing moment to watch Melania Trump get off of that airplane not wearing a headscarf and shaking the crown prince's hand, which, you know, it's very symbolic. Ivanka Trump is over there. She’s going to be doing around table.
WALLACE: In fairness, Michelle Obama did the same thing.
STRASSEL: Well, she did as well, too. But I guess the importance is, you also have to do by action, not just by lecturing, not just by talking. If they are over there attempting to -- behind the scenes -- because, look, that's where all the real action is taking place as well, too. These are all these events that are all for TV, but what you've got is an entire team of Trump delegates that are doing behind-the-scene meetings --
WILLIAMS: But I’ve heard from Secretary Rice, what I’ve heard from Senator McCain is, human rights are an essential part of our long-term policy as Americans.
HUME: Juan, the question of where to address it (ph), whether the best way to deal with that issue is to do so with public pronouncements in the face of these people who are hosting you, or is it better to handle it, all the outward and visible stuff with diplomacy, which is what this is all about and to address these issues in a quieter way.
WALLACE: I’m going to give the congresswoman a brief final word and we’ve got to move on.
HARMAN: Fine, you have to do both, Brit. It's good that the Egyptians released one guy held in prison, but it really matters that the Saudis now try civilians by military court.
WALLACE: All right. Well, that was brief.
We have to take a break here. We’ll see you all a little later.
When we come back, though, Senator John McCain on the president's first overseas trip, as well as his troubles here at home.
WALLACE: Coming up, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is tapped to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA: We’ve got to get this behind us so that we can move forward with the nation's work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask Senator John McCain how the special counsel will affect the president’s agenda, next.
WALLACE: As we’ve said, the president is conducting international diplomacy against a backdrop of intensifying investigations here at home.
Joining us now to discuss both, Republican Senator John McCain.
Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA: Thanks for having me back, Chris.
WALLACE: So what do you think of the president's trip so far and do you think that realistically he can get Muslim leaders to drop their support for extremism?
MCCAIN: I think this trip so far has been excellent. I think that the Sunni Arab world and particularly our traditional friends there are encouraged because of the very strained, if not estranged, relations between the previous administration. And so I think it successful. I think it's important. There's no doubt that if we’re going to impede the Iranian's continued efforts to exert certainly significant strength in the region, that this is an important step forward.
WALLACE: You wrote an article in "The New York Times" recently in which you said that the U.S. must always stand up for human rights and not abandon oppressed people around the world. Given that, what do you think of the decision, and you hurt Secretary Tillerson defended it a few moments ago, not to discuss human rights publicly on this trip?
MCCAIN: My enduring hero and inspiration is a guy named Ronald Reagan. At the height of the Cold War, when people were talking about real (ph) politics and we were talking about all these new names they give for accommodation with the then Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan stood for people. He went to the Berlin wall and said take down this wall. He wasn't talking about just the wall, he was talking about the wall that existed between freedom and -- and oppression. When he spoke for Nathan Sharansky, one of the great human rights person in history, he always had human rights as a fundamental belief that we would eventually prevail over the totalitarian regime we called the Soviet Union.
WALLACE: But this president and his team seem to think that that’s going to get in the way of practical progress.
MCCAIN: I've heard that for years and you have heard it for years. We've got to be practical. America is a -- is the unique nation in history with all of our errors and failings and mistakes that we've made, and God knows there's been lots of them, that we have stood up for people. That you think -- would this administration speak up for Nathan Sharansky, do you think? I don't think so. But -- so we have to and we -- they said, well, we talk about it quietly. Look, I want a close relationship with these Arab countries. I want to work with them, not so much because of ISIS, although that's very important, but also against Iranian hajemini (ph). But we have to stand up for what we believe in or we are no different.
WALLACE: Senator, you've got a lot of attention this week with some remarks you made -- you’re already beginning to laugh about it -- about the investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Here you are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I think it's reaching a point where it's a Watergate size and scale and a couple of other scandals that you and I have seen. It's a centipede that the shoe continues to drop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What exactly are you saying?
MCCAIN: True. What I'm saying is that we’re now, with the appointment of Mr. Mueller, we are now at that stage of a scandal. And now the question is, how is it handled? Is it handled the way Watergate was where it’s drip, drip, drip, every day more and more, or do we handle it like the -- like Ronald Reagan handled Iran Contra. It was a scandal. He fired people. He went on national television and said, we made mistakes, we did wrong and we’re not going to do it again in the American people let him move forward.
And so there’s -- what I was saying is, there's two ways of handling a situation such as this. With the appointment of Mr. Mueller, it, obviously, is now at that level. The point is, do we get it behind us, get all the information out there and move forward. The American people are very forgiving. The American people understand that no one is infallible. And so what my point was, let's get all the facts out, let's move forward and try to address the challenges that face this nation, which I would argue are probably more diverse and more challenging than any time since the end of the Cold War.
WALLACE: Senator, do you think this is a scandal?
MCCAIN: I don't know if you want to use the word scandal.
WALLACE: But that’s the word you used.
MCCAIN: Ys. But -- well, you know, the politicians prayer, may the words I utter today be tender and sweet because tomorrow I may have to eat them. I'm reminded of that. When I -- what I was saying was what I just described to you. I think if you want to use the word scandal, that's fine, as I did. The point is, it's a challenge to Washington, D.C., the way we do business, a challenge to bipartisanship and a challenge to the effectiveness of this newly elected president.
WALLACE: Some Democrats say that the president fired FBI Director James Comey in order to impede the investigation, but the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, pushed back on that. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: There has been no effort to impede our investigation today. Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Why do you think the president fired Jams Comey?
MCCAIN: I don't know. I -- honestly, I cannot explain a lot of the president’s actions. I don't think it was a wise thing to do. Mr. Comey was highly respected and highly regarded. And so I can’t -- I can't explain it. I don't think it was a smart thing to do.
WALLACE: Do you think it was an effort to impede the investigation?
MCCAIN: I do not know. I know that -- that this issue has infuriated the president. I mean that's obvious from his public appearances and his statements. But I don't think that that was the right remedy. But he's the president of the United States and he will face the events -- I'm not sure you would have had the appointment of Mr. Mueller if that had happened.
WALLACE: You say that the president should never have let Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov into the Oval Office in the first place last week. Now it turns out, and I want to put this back up on the screen, that Mr. Trump, according to the official summary, told Lavrov, "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy. A real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off." How do you read that, sir?
MCCAIN: I don't know how to read it except that -- and I -- I'm almost speechless because I don't know why to -- how -- why someone would say something like that. But I know this, Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who’s committed human rights violations all over the place, as -- invade Ukraine, has taken Crimea, has acted in the most thuggish and outrageous fashion and he had no business in the Oval Office. If there’s a president to Putin engagement in a meeting, I think that’s under the right circumstances, that might be OK, but not this stooge Lavrov, who is nothing but a propagandist.
WALLACE: The president is considering a number of people to be the new FBI director to replace James Comey, including your old friend, former Senator Joe Lieberman. After some Democrats criticized Joe Lieberman, you said this. I’m putting it -- going to put it up on the screen. "Joe Lieberman has more experience than all of my Democratic colleagues combined. So screw them. And you can quote me." Senator, let me deface (ph) this --
MCCAIN: What -- this is --
WALLACE: Is it time to switch to decaf?
MCCAIN: Chris, the thing that's really disappointing about this is, probably the most beloved and respected member of the United States Senate was Joe Lieberman by Republican and Democrat. So the same Democrats that proclaimed their friendship and bondage with Joe Lieberman are now the ones that are trashing him. This is -- it's a commentary on why we get a little cynical around this town.
WALLACE: The president says that the real story here are all the leaks that are coming out. And -- and I've got to say, the Air Force One was barely off the ground on its way to Saudi Arabia and we had big, explosive stories on the front page of "The New York Times," and the front page of "The Washington Post." Do you believe that there is a concerted effort among elements inside the intelligence and law enforcement communities to bring this president down?
MCCAIN: I can't go quite that far, but I think it's outrageous. I think it's a betrayal of their oaths of office. I think it's disgraceful. These facts would come out no matter what, Chris, in the course of a normal investigation that goes on. And these people who are doing it, I say, shame on them because they are not serving their country or even their own interest in the long run.
WALLACE: Do you think the investigation should go to them, as well as the question (ph)?
MCCAIN: I think it’s a violation of the law to leaked classified information and therefore they should be held accountable.
WALLACE: Finally, we have less than a minute left. You heard my discussion with Secretary Tillerson about that violent reaction, the beat down. And these pictures, I’ve got to say, are pretty bad, right here in the heart of Washington. Turkish security beating, kicking, oh, peaceful protesters. You heard the secretary's reaction. Are you satisfied with that?
MCCAIN: Well, again, this decaf issue, you know what I said, throw the Turkish ambassador the hell out of Washington. Those were his people and Erdogan’s people that were sent out there. That's not America and it's not allowed in the United States of America. Peaceful demonstrators being beaten up? Chris, that is just flat out wrong. And to say that we have asked for further information, you don't need any further information, just look at the clip that we just showed.
WALLACE: Senator, good to have you back. Always good to talk with you. Thank you, sir.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
WALLACE: When we come back, Washington is abuzz over the Russia investigation, but the president is determined to proceed with business as usual. We’ll bring back our Sunday panel.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the new special counsel and what it means for the president's agenda? Just go to FaceBook or Twitter @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but I can always speak for myself and the Russians, zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump saying the appointment of a special counsel is a waste of time that only serves to divide the country.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Brit, there were so many leaks, so many stories this week, including that Comey memo that he wrote right after a meeting in the Oval Office with the president in which he said the president told him, why don't you let the investigation of Michael Flynn go. What strikes you about where we are now in this story?
HUME: Well, I've never seen leaks on this scale. I mean Jason Rally of The Wall Street Journal, Kim’s colleague, sitting her the other day, that there are leaks and then there's Niagara Falls. Well, we’re under Niagara Falls right now. I’ve never seen anything like it. And the problem with it is that -- if a -- even if you assumed, Chris, that all these excerpts that’ we’re seeing, from memos and conversations and all the rest of it are accurate, they’re only part of the story, and we’re going to have to wait a while to get the rest of the story.
It is perfectly possible, for example, Chris, to interpret what was apparently set to Comey in the Oval Office indiscreetly to be sure by Donald Trump as being not a -- not a request to shut down an investigation, but a -- but a -- a question to Comey as to whether now that Trump -- that Flynn had been fired -- and at the time The Washington Post had reported that an examination of his phone calls with the Russian ambassador had uncovered nothing improper, isn’t it -- wouldn’t it be possible now to -- to let this go? Because I think Trump thinks he's innocent, and he may think Flynn is innocent and he’s saying, hey, come on, how about it, man, can’t you wrap this up, can’t we let this go? That's indiscreet, it's probably improper, but it's not obstruction of justice. In the atmosphere in which we’re now living, everything is likened to Watergate. Reporters, even some who weren’t there at the time, would like to relive that.
WALLACE: On this question of leaks and what's true here, we’ve got a number of questions from you for the panel and we got this on Twitter from Bob Kortbawi who writes, "what crimes have been committed? Not speculation, or facts, what are they? What factual proof is there? No innuendos, no rumors, just facts."
Congresswoman Harman, how do you answer, Bob?
HARMAN: Well, Washington was broken before Donald Trump was elected president. That’s one of the reasons he was elected president. And there were leaks before Donald Trump became president. So let’s put that in the background.
How do I answer him? We don't know if there were crimes committed. That's what a special counsel, not prosecutor, but a counsel, to investigate collusion, any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian meddling in the 2016 election, was established. We’ll see.
But Congress also has a role. This is a point that's important. I was here for Watergate. I wasn't on one of the Watergate committees, but I was a counsel to the Senate. And Congress played an important role on a bipartisan basis getting some tough answers to the toughest questions.
WALLACE: Are you troubled by this torrent of leaks that seem to be coming from --
HARMAN: Very troubled. John McCain is right, leakers should be prosecuted. The Justice Department should go after leakers. We have enough statues to prosecute them. And this climate of partial leaking is even worse because then there are selective quotes and you can make any seem true.
WALLACE: The White House got more bad news this week with the announcement that former FBI Director James Comey will testify in public before the Senate Intelligence Committee sometime after Memorial Day and Comey supporters are already trying to build a case for him and his credibility and what he’s going to say, for instance talking about the time two days after the inauguration when the president singled out Comey in the White House. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN WITTES, LAWFARE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into a hug. But the hug is entirely one-sided. So one guy in the hug is shaking hands and the other guy is hugging. And Comey was just completely disgusted by --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disgusted?
WITTES: Disgusted by the episode.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Kim, we've seen this before. This Comey testimony, this hearing, not saying whether he’s right or wrong and certainly people are going to push back, it’s going to be a moment of high drama here in Washington.
STRASSEL: Yes. Everything about Jim Comey is high drama at the moment.
I think the important point -- and it's interesting here, you have all these leaks, half leaks. You have his defenders going out. This is not unusual for James Comey. He keeps these notes. They clearly were taken as -- down as a sort of insurance policy, precisely in case he did get fired along the way. This has happened in the past, too. You know, he’s come out and he suddenly had a piece of paper showing a letter that he had sent that he was not on board with the Bush's enhanced interrogation tactics back at the time. He’s a very meticulous note keeper for the purpose of making sure that he's exonerated later if there are any questions that are coming out. So what’s going to be interesting, though, about this hearing is whether or not it really tells us anything of use because he's going to be reticent, I think, to talk about any of the questions that actually do need being answering given that a lot of it’s classified.
WALLACE: And I’ve got to -- I’ve got to say, Juan, that the president supporters are already beginning, if -- if Comey supporters are trying to build them up, Trump’s supporters are trying to tear him down, saying, well, if there really was this attempt to obstruct justice on go easy on Flynn, then why didn't he go public with it? Why didn't he resign? Why didn’t he tell more people in the Justice Department?
WILLIAMS: Just give me a moment here to say, if you have a leak, please call me at Fox News. I'm all for leakers. I think leakers are good contributors to democracy. I don't think try to undermine government, but I don’t think -- we condemned Obama for going harshly against people who were disclosing information, acting as if they were agents of some foreign government. This is a democracy. We have a First Amendment. Reporters play an essential role.
WALLACE: Yes, but this isn’t on the reporters.
WALLACE: This is -- no, this is on the people inside the government.
WILLIAMS: Fine. What I’m pounding (ph) here --
WALLACE: Don't you think they have a responsibility to keep secrets?
WILLIAMS: They do have a -- in some cases they’ve signed an oath. But, guess what, we have, as Jane Harman said a moment ago, a history in this country of people talking to the press, leaking, taking risks. I don’t see, all of a sudden, oh, just because of this president, all of a sudden everybody who says, you know what, there’s a risk to democracy, it’s to be condemned. Please.
WALLACE: Have you ever seen a torrent of leaks like this?
WILLIAMS: No, it's unbelievable.
HARMAN: Half (ph) leaks?
WILLIAMS: And, guess what, have I ever seen a president like this? No, I haven’t. I think everybody will say that, supporters and opponents.
But let me just answer your question.
WALLACE: You’ve got 30 seconds left now.
WILLIAMS: I think Jim Comey should not have commented. If he was be -- felt that he was being pressured to drop it, I think that would have compromised the ongoing investigation. He took contemporaneous notes and his job is to see the investigation -- the probe through as the FBI director, not to act on his thoughts. As Brit Hume said, you have to sense clear intention and I don't think that's been demonstrated to make the obstruction of justice case. And, by the way, high crimes and misdemeanors, that's up to the people in the Senate. It’s not a statutory crime.
WALLACE: Wow, (INAUDIBLE) going there.
HARMAN: Wow. (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: Let me just say, I can't wait for the Comey hearing. It’s going to be really interesting.
Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week," a voice of her generation shows no signs of slowing down.
WALLACE: The music business is notoriously tough and fickle. Singers can have one big hit and are never heard from again. That's why it's so remarkable for someone to keep turning out classics for more than 50 years. Here’s our "Power Player of the Week."
COLLINS: Well, I think of things from childhood. I think of things from last week. I think of things from tomorrow. I'm in a kind of state of meditation.
WALLACE: Judy Collins is talking about what she thinks of when she sings a song. Something she's done so memorably for more than half a century.
COLLINS: All of a sudden you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. It was totally magical.
WALLACE: Collins exploded on the music scene in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1961. It was the world of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.
WALLACE (on camera): Was it the music that attracted you, or was it the message?
COLLINS: Well, it was everything. It was creative. It was exciting. It was music. People were writing songs about every aspect of life.
WALLACE (voice-over): It was a world where late one night Joni Mitchell sang her "Both Sides Now" over the phone.
WALLACE (on camera): And what did you think?
COLLINS: I said, I’ll be right over. This is fantastic.
WALLACE: Is there a phrase you like?
COLLINS (singing): Tears and fears and feeling proud to say I love you write out loud.
WALLACE: How would you choose what worked for you and what didn't?
COLLINS: If it hits me here, I sing it. If I -- if that doesn't happen, I never want to hear it again.
WALLACE (voice-over): In 1975, Collins heard another song by Stephen Sondheim.
COLLINS (singing): Isn’t it rich. Are we a pair. Me here at last on the ground. You in midair.
I mean how could you not want to sing that song?
WALLACE: It won the Grammy for song of the year.
Collins made her mark in other ways, protesting for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. And in addition to singing her own songs and others, or failing love affair with Stephen Stills inspired him to write the classic "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes."
STEPHEN STILLS, MUSICIAN (singing): I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are.
WALLACE (on camera): He was trying to win you back?
COLLINS: Yes, he was.
WALLACE: And did it work?
COLLINS: No. I said, it's beautiful, but it's not going to get me back.
WALLACE (voice-over): Collins has had emotional problems over the years, depression and bulimia, and alcoholism.
WALLACE (on camera): You've been very public about it. Why?
COLLINS: Because I can't keep my mouth shut.
WALLACE (voice-over): She's written several books about it, including her latest one, "Cravings." But not surprisingly she says what she finds most healing is to sing.
COLLINS: The days when I was still drinking, you know, I very much would kind of get behind the microphone and shut my eyes and sing, like, for two hours, and that -- that was a period where nobody could get at me.
WALLACE (on camera): Since you asked --
WALLACE (voice-over): Before we knew it, Collins was giving us a private concert. At age 78, she still does more than 100 performances a year.
COLLINS: I love to sing and the lights are on and the music is on and the sound is great and the band is great and I'm exactly where I should be, doing what I should be doing.
WALLACE (on camera): No plans to retire?
COLLINS: Oh, my God! It's not in my repertoire! You know, I think part of it is that I am an artist and artists don't retire.
WALLACE: This summer Collins will tour the country with an old boyfriend Stephen Stills, marking the first time they've shared the stage.
And now a note about our family here. On Mother's Day last weekend, our executive producer, Jessica Loker, nine months pregnant, ran the show in the control room hoping her son would wait until we were done. Well, two days later, Mason Robert Loker joined the world. Mason, mom, dad, and big sisters Eliza and Evelyn are all doing well.
And that's it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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