Sekulow defends Don Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," July 16, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


New revelations about a meeting between Trump family members and Russian operatives shake Washington, just as the Senate gets ready for a make-or-break vote on health care.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Most people would've taken that meeting.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., MINORITY LEADER: That’s just an arrogant disregard for what is ethical.

WALLACE (voice-over): We’ll discuss how Donald Jr.'s meeting affects the potential case against the president with Jay Sekulow, a member of the Trump legal team.

Then, Republicans make changes to their health care bill, but some in the party say it's still not enough.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY: I can't vote for something that doesn't repeal ObamaCare and doesn't fix it.

WALLACE: We’ll ask Senator Rand Paul, one of the biggest critics of the bill, what more needs to be done to finally replace ObamaCare.

(on camera): Plus, Senate Republicans put off a vote this week as one of their own deals with his own health issue.

(voice-over): We’ll ask our Sunday panel what happens if the GOP fails to keep a major promise.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

First, some breaking news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has put off that big health care about this week while Senator John McCain recovers from surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. We’ll have much more on the effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare a little later.

First, our top story. For months, Donald Trump and his team have tried to put questions about links to Russian interference in the election behind them. But that is now much tougher with a stream of revelations about a meeting Donald Trump, Jr., and other campaign officials held with Russian operatives last summer, expecting to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

How does this affect the credibility of the Trump White House? And what does it mean for at least four investigations into possible collisions?

Joining me now is Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's legal team.

Jay, since the story first broke about possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, the president and his team have repeatedly dismissed this as a hoax and fake news. Here are a few examples.


DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's disgusting, it's so phony. That exactly goes to show you what the DNC and what the Clinton camp will do. They will lie and do anything to win.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have nothing to do with Russia, and even -- for anything. What do I have to do with Russia?

WALLACE: Was there any contact in any way between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or cutouts they had?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can only speak for myself and the Russians, zero.


WALLACE: Jay, do you now acknowledge that all of those denials are at the very least suspect?

JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: No, you’ve got to put them in context of what the president said and exactly what took place here, Chris. I think it's important to put the framework here. How did we end up with a special counsel?

Here's how: the former FBI director, was the FBI director at the time, James Comey, had a series of meetings with the president of the United States. In those meetings, he took notes. He put them on his government computer, put them in his government desk, and when he was terminated from position, which you would (ph) acknowledge that the president had the authority to do, he gave them to a friend of his to leak to the press.

So, conversations he had with the president of the United States --


WALLACE: Jay, I’m aware of the history, but this doesn't have anything to do with my question, which is whether or not -- whether or not there were contacts.


SEKULOW: Chris, it has everything --

WALLACE: Can you answer the question? Does this --

SEKULOW: I’m going to answer your question, I am, and you're going to let me answer it. So, I’m going to finish what I was saying.

WALLACE: It depends on how long we’re going to take to get there.

SEKULOW: Not long. Chris, he leaked the information for one purpose and one purpose only to his friend, and he said to get a special counsel and the special counsel is appointed. So, the entire premise upon which this entire investigation has been based was based on illegally leaked information, including conversation with the president the president of the United States, and today, it's announced that James Comey has signed a book deal where he's going to discuss all this.

You tell me you think that's OK?

WALLACE: I’m not asking about any of that. I’m asking about --


WALLACE: Wait a minute, Jay, you said let me let you finish, now let me finish.

The question I’m asking you is very simple. The president, his vice president, his son repeatedly denied any contacts with the Russians. Given what we've learned this week about the contact between a number of top campaign officials, including the president's son, are all those denials that that's just fake news and a hoax, are those suspect?

SEKULOW: I just answer the question on why -- the president's statements have been clear on what this was involving in his view, and I gave you just now the analysis on how in fact this investigation started.

WALLACE: But that’s not the question I asked. But let’s go if we can --


SEKULOW: Chris, let's not go through that again. It was the question you asked --


WALLACE: No, it wasn't. The question you -- the question I asked you, Jay, is whether or not the denials are suspect? I didn't ask you about James Comey.

SEKULOW: I do not think the denials are suspect. I do not think the denial by the president of the United States is suspect at all.

WALLACE: Here's the email exchange in June of 2016 between Don, Jr., setting up the meeting between Don, Jr., and the Russians.

Rob Goldstone writes: The crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information that is part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump.

Don, Jr. responds: If that’s what you say -- if it's what to say, I love it, especially later in the summer.

Doesn't that contradict the denial of any contact between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

SEKULOW: I mean, what it states was that there was going to be a meeting -- you said the Russians, this was a lawyer who was Russian. That was -- this was a lawyer who ended being -- was Russian. And what took place at that meeting, and it's been well-reported and you reported this as well, the discussions involving the Magnitsky Act and Russian adoptions. It was quickly ended. It was in the middle of a campaign.

And, look, this idea that -- it may have involved opposition research which never materialized evidently. The fact is, you know, that the Ukrainians at the very same time or working with the DNC and the Clinton campaign to get, what, opposition research on Donald Trump and his associates.


SEKULOW: So, everybody's acting as if -- OK. Go ahead.

WALLACE: Well, what I was going to say is, doesn't it indicate -- you say, well, it was a meeting about adoption, we’ll get to that in a moment.


WALLACE: But he fact of the matter is, the reason that Don, Jr. went into that room and Jared Kushner went into that room and Paul Manafort went into that room was not to talk about adoption, it’s because they had been promised --


WALLACE: -- they’ve been promised by Rob Goldstone that there would be information as part of the Russian government's effort to tip the election to President Trump.

SEKULOW: Yes, and, of course, nothing in that meeting that would have taken place, even if it was about the topic of an opposition research paper from a Russian lawyer is a legal or a violation of the law. And, by the way, I’m not the only lawyer -- and you know this, Chris -- most lawyers, many, I would say a vast majority of lawyers that you’ve interviewed and others have interviewed on your network and other networks, have acknowledged that the meeting itself and those proposed discussion would not have been a violation of the law.

WALLACE: But the point is, it does show intent, willingness, perhaps not actual collusion because apparently, and, in fact, none of us know what really went on to the meeting, but assuming that at least on that point everybody is telling the truth, doesn't it show intent and willingness on the part of Don, Jr., and Jared and Paul Manafort to collude with the Russians?

And let me just point out, Natalia Veselnitskaya was not just some Russian off the street. She had close ties to people in the Kremlin.

SEKULOW: Well, number one, if it was -- the discussion was going to be about -- if it was going to be about Russian opposition research that a Russian lawyer had, the fact is, those goes on -- you know that goes on the campaigns all the time. Opposition research is a big part of campaigning. I just gave you the example --


WALLACE: It doesn't go on with Russians all the time, Jay.

SEKULOW: Well, now, but, look, this was -- here’s what happened. First of all, nothing happened. There’d be no exchange of information. But in and of itself, that meeting, the relevancy of the differential that you just put forward, the relevancy of whether it was a Russian lawyer or other individuals that Donald Trump, Jr., knew, the fact is what took place during that meeting, even on the basis of the emails as Donald Trump, Jr., laid them out, were not violations of the statutes.

So, when you talk about Russian collusion, colluding to do what? What? Colluding to violate what law?

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about the legality of the meeting.


WALLACE: The U.S. Code, and let's put it up --


WALLACE: -- bars a foreign national of giving money or, quote, thing of value, in connection with an election and it bars anyone from soliciting such assistance.


WALLACE: Wasn't the Trump campaign, in agreeing to that meeting, not talking about what happened, but what they thought when they went into that meeting, wasn't it soliciting something of value, which was the Kremlin, as they believed it, the Kremlin’s effort to tip the election to Donald Trump?

SEKULOW: Well, number one, they didn't solicit the meeting and you know that by reviewing the emails. The meeting --

WALLACE: But they agreed to it and --


WALLACE: They agreed to it and, in fact, Donald Trump said, I love it, and he agreed to the meeting on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

SEKULOW: The opposition research, if it would have materialized, is not a thing of value. There's never been a case that has said that opposition research is a thing of value.

And, by the way, there’s been FEC lawyers, Federal Election Commission lawyers that have talked about that as well.

So, I think, Chris, you don't conflate -- I don't think it's appropriate to conflate -- the exact transition as it was laid out in those emails, which was not a solicitation by the Trump campaign to get information, it was an offer of opposition research. Compare that to what took place with the Ukrainians and the DNC where they were working in collusion with each other, or when the DNC was leaking to one of the other networks the questions that they were going to ask during the debates.

So, everyone's acting as if there's this massive collusion statute that only applies here. The fact is there is no collusion statute, period.

WALLACE: Well, there are a couple of points here, and one of them is that you seem to be sliding over the fact that this wasn't CNN that was given questions to Hillary Clinton. This was according to the offer that was being made by Rob Goldstone. This was the Kremlin, a hostile power, offering information.

Christopher Wray, the president's own FBI director nominee, saw it this way. Take a look.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR NOMINEE: To the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.


WALLACE: He is not saying any actual --


WALLACE: -- interference. He is saying any offer is something the FBI would want to know. Would you agree that Donald Jr., and Jared and Paul Manafort should have notified the FBI?

SEKULOW: Here’s -- what -- this is what Chris Wray just said. He would investigate any type of involvement of interference.

The president of the United States has said precisely the same thing. He said that on multiple occasions, you could go back and check the record on this, the president said to James Comey, if satellites were doing something -- remember that whole statement?

But here, what do you have? What took place between what we know took place, was not a violation of the law. There's not a violation of the law. The question is, Russia’s other engagement on a global scale, as directed to the United States, that's being investigated.

I -- and the president has asked Vladimir Putin himself about that, talk to him about that, on multiple occasions when they were just at the G20. So, this idea that this -- that what Chris Wray said is somehow inconsistent with what the president said I think is a false narrative. It's not true.

WALLACE: In our --

SEKULOW: They are not inconsistent statements. Yes, go ahead.

WALLACE: You began this interview by going after James Comey for leaking information, for writing a book.

SEKULOW: Yes, yes.

WALLACE: In our last interview last month, you were sharply critical of James Comey and I want to play some of that for you.


SEKULOW: I can't discuss that and I would not discuss that with you. Unlike James Comey, who leaks information to the press, I actually respect the attorney-client privilege. Apparently, he did not.


WALLACE: Jay, you said that a couple of times and that interview. Let me ask you, with the attorney-client privilege exists between the president and the FBI director?

SEKULOW: Well, there's the presidential executive privileges and there’s the deliberative privilege. So, there’s two privileges that acquire there.

WALLACE: There’s no attorney -- you would agree there's no attorney-client privilege?

SEKULOW: Well, James Comey is an attorney, but in the case of his conversation --


WALLACE: But he's not acting as an attorney. He is acting as FBI director.

SEKULOW: Right. But you --


WALLACE: He doesn't work as the personal attorney for the president.

SEKULOW: No, of course not.

WALLACE: Well, OK, so that’s --

SEKULOW: But he has -- he held it, Chris, I want to be clear, he has an executive privilege, no one denies that there was a privilege that existed between the president of the United States and James Comey, and James Comey willfully, without the consent of the White House or the president, released information that was covered by that privilege.

WALLACE: But he doesn’t -- the point --

SEKULOW: That's illegal.

WALLACE: -- the point I’m trying to make, Jay, that when you suggest that James Comey violated attorney-client privilege that really misunderstands the role of the FBI director. He's not the president's private lawyer.

SEKULOW: Chris, I have the attorney-client privilege, and that was the context of what I said. I have the attorney-client privilege. Unlike James Comey, I respect the attorney-client privilege as James Comey should have respected the executive privilege and the deliberative privilege that he waved, which he had no authority to do, in order to get evidently a special counsel and a book deal.

WALLACE: One final question -- well, he got the book deal because he got fired by the president. Who’s --

SEKULOW: Do you think -- OK, do you think it's OK that in the book deal, according to the press reports, that he's going to go into details on his conversations with the president? Do you think that's good? Do you think that's OK?

WALLACE: I asked the questions. You answer them, Jay. Let me ask you --

SEKULOW: You won't answer that one. OK, go ahead. Go ahead.

WALLACE: Let me ask you one final question, and I hope you can answer this. Who's paying you and all of the outside lawyers?

SEKULOW: So, I am retained by the main law firm that's involved in the representation of the president and that is the Kasowitz firm. I’m retained of counsel. So, our billing that I would do for this kind of case goes to his firm and they pay us.

WALLACE: Yes. But you're kind of ducking the question. Who's paying them?

SEKULOW: No, no, I don’t --


WALLACE: Obviously, Marc Kasowitz is paying you. Who’s paying them?

SEKULOW: That situation is between Mr. Kasowitz’s firm and whoever is paying, whatever entities paying them. We are sub-paid by the -- we’re just of counsel. So, I can't give you -- I’m not in privity of contract as we say in the law with a person or the organization that's paying for bills to the Kasowitz firm.

WALLACE: Do you know if President Trump is personally paying for his private legal defense? Because the reason I ask is --

SEKULOW: I don’t know.

WALLACE: -- there’s talk that the campaign committee is paying. There is talk about an effort to have the RNC pay.


WALLACE: So, this is an issue.

SEKULOW: Yes. But that’s -- none of those would be illegal or outside the norm. I mean, that happens in these cases. I can’t answer your question because I don’t know.

WALLACE: I’m just trying to get an answer.

SEKULOW: Yes. Well, I don’t -- I’m not in privity of contract, as we say, with the party that’s responsible for the actual payment of the bill. I’m just of counsel to the Kasowitz firm for the purposes of this case.

WALLACE: Well, Jay, I think it went better than last time and, you know, we’re going to still keep trying to get this --

SEKULOW: Well, I don't mind a good joust. A good joust is all right, even early in the morning.

WALLACE: Jay, thank you. Thanks for your time this Sunday.

SEKULOW: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it.

WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss whether the Don, Jr. meeting is more fake news or the first hard evidence this is a real scandal.



TRUMP, JR.: I’m more than happy to be transparent and I’m more than happy to cooperate with everyone.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: So, as far as you know, as far this is incident is concerned, this is all of it?

TRUMP, JR: This is everything. This is everything.


WALLACE: Donald Trump Jr. telling Sean Hannity he had disclosed the full story about his meeting with a Russian lawyer that was three days before we learned there was someone else in the room with reported links to Soviet intelligence.

And it's time now for our Sunday group. Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of ObamaCare and author of the new book "Prescription for the Future." Julie Pace, Washington bureau chief of The Associated Press and the head of Heritage Action for America, Michael Needham.

Well, Julie, how badly does the White House -- officials in the White House, think all the revelations this week about the Don, Jr. meeting, how badly has a damage their effort to sideline this whole thing as fake news?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, in terms of sidelining it, I think this does a lot of damage. And when you talk to White House officials after the first couple of revelations about this meeting, there was a change. You could tell that they knew that this was more serious.

They knew that this was going to be harder to talk their way out of for a couple reasons. One, we're talking with the president's son. Two, we're talking about actual emails that say in black and white that they were told this was part of a Russian government to help Trump.

And three, the president’s son then released those emails himself. So, it wasn’t anonymous sources. It wasn't something that could blame on the intelligence agencies and say it was coming from disgruntled officers.

I do think the overall strategy from the White House, as you saw from the president's lawyer, is going to be to fight back, to try to say that even though you see these emails, even though you know this meeting happen, there was nothing there. And to continue to deny that there is any -- there is any reason for any of these committees and the Mueller investigation to continue.

WALLACE: I get -- I have an understanding that there really is a lot of disarray, that these legal teams, particularly the legal team for Don Jr., and the legal team for Jared are at cross purposes as to how to handle this, that nobody in the White House feels they can coordinate, because if they do talk to the outside lawyers, they’re going to end up being called to testify before the committee.

And I also understand that there is growing concern about the kind of dual role of Jared and Ivanka. Are they top officials? Are they family? Are they in -- particularly in Jared's case, potential subjects of an investigation? This becomes very, very hard for a White House to manage.

PACE: This is really complicated internally, because you have people who have interests that are starting to diverge, who are all working in the White House who are related to the president and they have their own legal teams. And these legal teams are looking out for the client. And if your client is Jared Kushner, that is your top priority, not the president of the United States, despite the fact that Jared Kushner is married to the president's daughter. Don Jr., he’s going to have a legal team that is going to be focused on his interest.

And, frankly, a lot of people in the White House think the president's legal team has not been doing the president a great service at this point.

WALLACE: Here's how President Trump defended the Donald Jr. meeting this week?


TRUMP: It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent. I’ve had many people. I have only been in politics for two years. But I’ve had many people call up, oh gee, we have information on this factor or this person or frankly, Hillary. That's very standard in politics.


WALLACE: Brit, does that explanation fly -- and as a veteran, as I am, of a lot of Washington scandals that we have covered -- how damaging do you think this week’s revelations were?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The revelations are damaging in one particular sense, which is it means that there's no end in sight for this firestorm. And once you have, as Julie was explaining and you were pointing out, all these people getting lawyers and preparing to testify and all the rest of it, the burden on the White House is enormous. There was already a burden on this White House to fight these allegations. Whether they add up to anything illegal is a separate matter from what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the political consequence of this, which is very serious because it means that this is the atmosphere in which this administration and this White House is going to have to operate going forward.

And then it begins to matter, Chris, about how well staff the White House is, how will staff the administration is, and all the rest of it. An administration and White House can become paralyzed by this kind of thing. And that -- that among other things is one of the dangers faced here. The explanation the president gave just isn't sufficient.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, it is worth noting that this isn't the first time Russia has tried to influence American elections. It goes back to the 1960s, and we’ve had multiple cases where they tried to actually influence. The Kennedy versus Nixon, Al Gore versus Bush. And every time they've approached some other candidates, they've spurned it or turned it over to the FBI.

So, the notion that the president says this is opposition research and everyone does it, it’s not true. People do have standards. There are rules of engagement and getting a foreign government to try to give you dirty information is something that the American political system hitherto has not permitted. So, that notion is wrong.

WALLACE: Let me just pick up on that one point. We’ll get back to it in a second with Michael, because I think it’s fair to say you have been generally supportive of President Trump.

But doesn't this set of emails and the fact that this meeting -- here are the people who were in the meeting, Don Jr., Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, doesn't the email exchange and the fact that those three Trump officials showed up at the meeting show at least an intent, a willingness to collude?

MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: Well, there was a willingness to accept opposition research from a foreign agent, and that’s something that should be concerning. I thought it was interesting. I agree with what Zeke said, except he conveniently left out Ted Kennedy in 1983 try to work with the Russians to defeat Ronald Reagan, which in no way justifies anybody working with the Russians right now to get opposition research, but I think that’s what it shows.

I think that’s why all Americans recognizing that Russia is a foreign actor, a hostile foreign actor, are supportive of these investigations, and the country deserves to see what comes out of the investigation. The challenge that those of us who care about policy phase is how, with all of this going on, to get the necessary attention, as we’ll talk in the second panel about health care and taxes and other issues. But clearly, these are investigations that need to go on and are going on and we look forward to seeing the results.

WALLACE: Since you’re a panelist, I’m not going to call your Dr. Emanuel. I’m going to call you Zeke.

EMANUEL: That’s fine.

WALLACE: How far as a committed Democrat are you prepared to go? Because -- I mean, we aren’t going to talk in specifics. But are you willing to see the country paralyzed for the next year? Are you willing -- if -- and I repeat -- if more information comes out to see the president impeached, how far do we need to go on this?

EMANUEL: Well, we have -- democracy is at stake here in America. Having our biggest enemy, Russia, come in and try to meddle and change our election that is the bedrock of democracy. That is the most important thing.

I do not want to see this country paralyzed, but I do not want to see our democracy undermined by having the president of the United States colluding and his officials colluding with Russia.

And, remember, there are -- you know, when people go into government, they actually have to abide by the laws here. And one of the laws is you can't get anything of value, whether money or other things of value from a foreign country.

WALLACE: Let me just bring --

EMANUEL: Opposition research is true, it's of value. It may not be dollar value.

WALLACE: Well, I was going to say, you heard what Jay Sekulow had to say about that. No response to Zeke?

NEEDHAM: I mean, he's grandstanding.

We should allow the investigation to play out. We should look at what happens when the investigation plays out and then we should have a discussion right now, the -- you know, emotion that was just displayed was nice, but it's grandstanding until the facts come out.

EMANUEL: Democracy is a very fragile thing. We have seen in other countries. Turkey is a very good example of how someone can win an election and totally undermine democracy by taking down judicial independence, the press, and reelection.


WALLACE: Let me just say, grandstanding has gone before on this panel, you have 15 seconds.

HUME: I have a hunch here that American democracy has survived this effort, and we don't really know how far it went. We don't know whether it had any real noticeable impact on election or any of that. And it seems to me, to become kind of overwrought about the fact that our democracy is in peril because of all this is a little premature at least.

WALLACE: Panel, we have to take a break here. We’ll see you all a little later.

Up next, Senate Republicans struggle to hold a crucial vote on health care, but does the bill do enough to repeal and replace ObamaCare?

One of the plan's biggest critics, Senator Rand Paul, joins us next.


WALLACE: Coming up, Senate Republicans continue to make changes to their health care bill, but some in the party still aren't happy.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY: Unfortunately, the new plan actually doesn't repeal ObamaCare. That promise to repeal ObamaCare, not to continue ObamaCare.


WALLACE: Senator Rand Paul joins us next.


WALLACE: A look outside the beltway at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the world's top female golfers are competing in today's final round of the U.S. Women's Open.

Well, last night Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put off consideration of health care legislation this week after it was announced that Senator John McCain had surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. Republicans are struggling to pass a revised bill, which some say still doesn't go far enough to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Joining me know, one of the biggest critics, Senator Rand Paul.

Senator, let's start with the bottom line. Whenever it comes up, whenever Senator McCain is in good health and comes back, does Senator -- Senate Majority Leader McConnell have the votes to pass this revised bill?

PAUL: You know, I don't think right now he does. And the -- the real problem we have is, you know, we won four elections on repealing ObamaCare, but this bill keeps most of the ObamaCare taxes, keeps most of the regulations, keeps most of the subsidies, and create something that Republicans have never been before, and that’s a giant insurance bailout superfund. That's not a Republican idea to give taxpayer money to a private industry that already makes $15 billion in profit.

WALLACE: So if this bill does not pass, what happens?

PAUL: Well, you know, what I've suggested to the president, and I talked to the president again, you know, when he was in Paris just this last weekend or I guess on Friday, and I’ve told him, I think we can still -- if -- you know, if this comes to an impasse, I think of the president comes -- jumps into the fray and says, look, guys, you promised to repeal it, let's just repeal what we can agree to and then we can continue to try to fix, replace or whatever has to happen afterwards.

But the one thing we should do is try to repeal as many of the taxes, as many of the regulations, and as many of the mandates as we possibly can. I still think the entire 52 of us could get together on a more narrow, clean repeal, and I think it still can be done.

WALLACE: Now, this isn’t change of heart, because back in January you said that you had told the president, and he agreed with you, that you needed to repeal and replace at the same time?

PAUL: Well, you know, it's interesting that it's not. I'm still for replace, it's just my definition of replace is a lot different than some of the big government Republicans. My idea always was to replace it with freedom, legalize choice, legalize inexpensive insurance, allow people to join associations to buy their insurance. I'm still for all of those. And I think those could actually be part of clean repeal. In fact, most of the ideas I've had on letting people join groups to buy their insurance, you know, letting the plumber and his wife join a large group like the chamber of commerce, those ideas are actually welcomed by virtually every Republican. That passed in the House of Representatives unanimously.

WALLACE: Here's what President Trump says in his weekly address this weekend about the merits of the current, new revised bill.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate health care bill stops the ObamaCare disaster, expand choice and drives down cost.


WALLACE: Is the president wrong, senator?

PAUL: You know, I would caution about overselling what's going to happen. I've been involved with health care for 20 years as a physician. It was in terrible shape before ObamaCare. It got worse under ObamaCare. And I predict that the fundamental flaw of ObamaCare will remain with the Republican plan. And this is a big reason why I can't support it.

The fundamental flaw is that mandates on insurance cause prices to rise and young, healthy people then say, hey, I’ll just wait until I get sick and the insurance pool gets sicker and sicker. It’s called adverse selection. We also call it the death spiral. The Republican plan admits that it will continue. If they just say, hey, guys, we’re going to subsidize it. We’re going to dump billions of dollars into the insurance companies and say, please charge less and try to counteract the death spiral. But the Republican plan doesn't fix the death spiral of ObamaCare, it simply subsidizes it.

WALLACE: Yes, I understand, and I think everybody would agree that this bill does not repeal ObamaCare, it does not fix all of the problems with it. But here is why conservatives say it is still worth supporting. It is, they contend, the most significant Medicaid reform ever. It turns an open-ended entitlement into a block grant for states. Compare the current law, it cuts Medicaid spending $772 billion by 2026. Are you willing, senator, to see all of that go down the drain?

PAUL: I think that some of the Medicaid reform is probably good. Slowing down the rate of growth is what they do to Medicaid. They don't actually cut. So I think that's the wrong term to use. But they do slow down the rate of growth. It -- a lot of the slow down rate of growth doesn't kick in till years seven, eight, nine, and ten.

And I’ve seen the way things work in Washington. And the sad thing is, we do these 10-year plans that kind of remind me of the Soviet’s five-year agricultural plans. They’re kind of a fiction. We do the things in the first two or three, four or five years and then by the time we get to seven or eight or year nine, there’s a new Congress. Maybe those are Democrats. And then the whole Medicaid reform goes out the window.

But the bottom line is, I'm not willing to trade Medicaid reform for an insurance company bailout, an insurance company entitlement. They call it a temporary stabilization fund of nearly $200 billion. It's never going away because they do not fix the death spiral of ObamaCare. The death spiral of ObamaCare will remain with the Republican plan. And that’s ask I just can't support it as it's written.

WALLACE: Now, you say that given the balance of power and the -- and the way the votes are lining up, that you’d like to see a straight repeal at this point and then try to fix it later. Your Republican colleagues say, one, there are not 51 votes for a straight repeal and, two, if you do that, and then you, as you say, try to fix it later, then because it’s not going to be part of budget reconciliation, you’re going to need 60 votes, you’re going to have to work with Democrats, and you’re going to end up with a lot of stuff that's even more liberal.

PAUL: Well, there is a way we can do it. We do a more narrow, clean -- cleaner repeal. But we can also, at the same time, put forward a bill that has some of the big-ticket spending items that conservatives object to. I will vote against that.

But there are many bills that all the Democrats always vote for. If it has government spending on it, Democrats vote for it. So there's a chance we could take the things that I object to on the repeal bill that aren’t repeal, that are big government spending, put them in a bill the Democrats typically vote for, one is called SCHIP. It’s a reaffirmation of like Medicaid for children. It will be a big spending bill. And if they want to spend billions on bailing out the insurance company, they could do that with Democrats because in all likelihood Democrats will vote for that. Conservatives will vote against an insurance bailout, but we’d have a clean repeal and then we’d have a spending bill. They can actually be advanced simultaneously really on the same day. Moderates would get what they want, which is more debt for the country and more spending. Conservatives will get what we want, a clean repeal, which is really the only thing we promised in the election and we promised it over and over again. So it kind of annoys me that Republicans are going back on their word to repeal ObamaCare.

WALLACE: Let’s do a lightning rod, quick questions, quick answers, because there are a number of ideas as it looks like the Senate Republicans may be deadlocked on what can be done to try to break the logjam.

First of all, Ted Cruz has gotten a measure put into the bill that says that insurers can put out skinnier -- what they call skinnier, cheaper plans, fewer benefits for healthy people as long as they put out one -- at least one plan that all -- has all of the health benefits required by ObamaCare. What's wrong with that?

PAUL: I'm for more choice, so in general I've been supportive of the Cruz Amendment. However, the Cruz Amendment will still be in the context of having the fundamental flaw of ObamaCare, which are all these mandates. So adverse selection will continue even with the Cruz Amendment and some have argued it would be made worse.

Cruz himself says, oh, you know what, we’re going to have to increase government subsidies to insurance companies to stabilize prices. Well, that’s just not a very Republican idea to have taxpayer money going to a private industry. The insurance companies make $15 billion a year. So I'm generally for the idea of the amendment because it gives more freedom, but it's in the context of a bill that still has the fundamental flaw, still retains the death spiral of ObamaCare. So, ultimately, I won't work.

And I tell people, they don’t -- people don’t -- Republicans don't understand this, when they pass this, they are going to completely own health care. And people are -- have been unhappy with health care ever since I've been in medicine, one, because of the large sort of bullying way that we’re treated by insurance companies deny everything.

You know, my family alone, we fight tooth and nail to get our insurance company to cover anything. I'm like the rest of America, we’re frustrated with insurance companies charging us through the roof and then not paying for the stuff that we need when we go to the doctor.

WALLACE: Senator -- senator, let me just explain again the idea of the lightning round is quick questions and quick answers.

So let me -- let me ask you one other --

PAUL: That was a quick one.

WALLACE: Let me ask you one other quick one, which was that Senators Cassidy and Graham are now saying go the federalism route and let each side -- each state decide what they want. Here it is.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: We’re going to take that $500 billion and through some kind of formula give it to the state and say the following. If you want to repair ObamaCare, you can repair it. If you want to replace it, you can replace it.


WALLACE: Briefly, what's wrong with that?

PAUL: Well, the problem is, is ObamaCare was a trillion dollar tax increase. If you tell me it's federalism to increase taxes by a trillion dollars collective in Washington and then send them back to be spent by the states, that's not really federalism. Federalism would be devolving the power and the size and scope of the federal government to the states, and I'm all for that.

But I think their proposal with -- I don't know exactly what it is as far as what we’ll do with the regulations. Does it wipe out all the regulations of ObamaCare? What happens to the regulation? So I -- I -- it sounds like a nonstarter.

WALLACE: I think it’s up to the states. Let me ask you one -- let me ask you one last question. I've got 30 seconds left for this one.

Some of your colleagues say, look, you’re -- if this goes down, you're going to end up with ObamaCare, because this is it. It's either this or ObamaCare. You’d rather keep ObamaCare?

PAUL: I think that the current system is terrible. The death spiral of ObamaCare is unwinding the whole system and it will continue to unwind. But I don't think Republican should put their name on this, keep part of ObamaCare and then we’re going to be blamed for the rest of the unwinding of ObamaCare. It's a really bad, political strategy and it’s not going to fix the problem.

WALLACE: Senator Paul, thank you. Thanks for joining us.

PAUL: Thank you.

WALLACE: And we’ll watch what happens on The Hill when it finally does come to a vote. And it's always a pleasure to talk with you, sir.

PAUL: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring back our Sunday group to handicap Republican chances to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the GOP’s revised health care bill? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @foxnewssunday and we may use your question on the air.



PRESET: But I’m sitting, waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. They've been promising it for years. Mitch has to pull it off. He's working very hard. He's got to pull it off.


WALLACE: President Trump putting the onus on Senate Republican leaders to fulfill one of his major campaign promise to repeal ObamaCare. And we’re back now with the panel.

Julie, I’ve got to say, I was struck by the president saying that he’s sitting there at his desk waiting for the bill to come there. I know he's made a few calls, but this sure seems different from Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton actively lobbying, bringing people in. I mean, am I wrong or is --

PACE: You’re not wrong. There -- there is not a lot of hands-on effort happening by the president certainly on the details of the legislation. He’s made a couple of phone calls. He has done a few interviews where he’s talked about this. But when it comes to the actual policy details in this legislation, it's a hands-off strategy.

But, frankly, Republicans are not that upset about it. They actually would prefer that he not start meddling with the details on this. What they would like to see him do, though, is try to use the bully pulpit that he does have, the audience that he does have on Twitter, to sell the bill.

They see him do this sometime and be pretty off message. He’s talked about trying to put more money in the bill, which is not exactly a Republican argument. He has talked about, you know, trash the House bill, which he was -- was so in favor of.

WALLACE: Said it was mean.

PACE: Said it was mean. So what Republicans would like is for him to stay out of the policy details but try to at least sell this to the American people.

WALLACE: Brit, we may be surprised, but I think you would agree that whenever this bill does come up for a vote, probably not this week but maybe next week or the week after, that passing it is a bit of a long shot. And I guess my question is, how come?

HUME: Well, I would look at it a little bit differently, Chris. It seems to me that -- you remember when the first version of this measure came out --


HUME: And about a dozen or so senators made it plain they -- they couldn't vote for it. So it goes back for a little rehab and it comes out again and we have -- we’re down to where two or three Republicans get it. That doesn't mean all the rest of them who were for -- who were against it before will vote for it, but it suggests to me that considerable progress has been made and that the Republican leadership in the Senate is now quite close to where they can pass the bill.

So when it gets down to it, the question you asked Rand Paul at the end of your interview with him is a question every Republican senator is going to have to face, and that is to say any -- when it gets down to it, are you going to cast a vote, the effective of which is to leave ObamaCare fully in place? And, you know, remember when those House members all resisted the first version of the House bill and they all went home? I think they thought they were going to be heroes. They weren't. And the result was, was fairly minor changes. That bill ultimately passed. I think there's a significant chance that will happen here as well.

WALLACE: In the time that we have left, I want to try to drill down into the relative merits of the current system versus the revised Senate bill. And here’s what President Trump had to say this weekend.


TRUMP: We are very, very close to ending this health care nightmare. We are so close. The legislation working its way through Congress provides the choice and control people want, the affordability they need and the quality they deserve in health care.


WALLACE: Zeke, I want to get you into a debate with your policy counterpart here, Michael Needham, and -- and I'm going to let you go first. Is the president wrong? When it comes to the question of ObamaCare versus the current Senate bill, why is ObamaCare better?

EMANUEL: Well, the current Senate bill will throw 22 million people off of insurance and --

WALLACE: But we don't know that. That was the -- the --

EMANUEL: It will. Look, it's going to throw at least over 15 million, because that's the Medicaid part. So it's going to throw something like 22 million people off of insurance. Second, it totally undermines the insurance marketplace with the Cruz Amendment. It actually makes the bill worse because the adverse selection Rand Paul was talking about will be even worse. Health --

WALLACE: That -- that -- that says that healthy people can buy cheap plans, sick people have to go for the full plan.

EMANUEL: And basically it undermines the freedom of cancer patients that I take care of because they will not be able to afford any health insurance given the Cruz proposal and all.

WALLACE: But what about the subsidies that are in the Cruz --

EMANUEL: They’re not -- any -- everyone knows they’re inefficiently distributed and they’re nowhere near enough.

And the third point I would make is, $45 billion for opioid care over ten years may sound like a lot of people to people, but it's the president's own commission says they need over $220 billion. So it’s 20 percent. So you’ve got high insurance, undermining of the insurance market, and you don't solve the opioid crisis. It's a terrible bill.

WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel and we got this on Facebook
On the new revised Senate Republican bill from Marc Hall who writes, "repeal the ACA," Affordable Care Act, "as promised. Do not fix. Repeal it outright. What is wrong with the free market and patient choice, just like we have in auto insurance."

Michael, how do you answer Marc and how do you answer Zeke on this question of whether the revised bill is better or worse than the current system?

NEEDHAM: Yes, I mean, Mark’s exactly actually right, the problem when you talk to people in the Senate is, there’s probably at this point only 15 or 20 votes in the Senate for full repeal of ObamaCare. For seven years the Republican Party promised full repeal of ObamaCare. We need to move towards a patient centered free market plan. This bill doesn’t do it. And it’s because, unfortunately, the Republican Party wasn't serious about repeal. And that's a tragedy. And it means that the --

WALLACE: Is it -- so are you saying that we should leave ObamaCare in place or we -- should we go for this?

NEEDHAM: No. I think this bill is the first step in a process of repealing ObamaCare.

WALLACE: And why is Zeke wrong?

NEEDHAM: Zeke’s wrong because Zeke’s doing what a lot of people in Washington, D.C., do, and he's playing baseline games and he’s looking at these things. The CBO said 23 million people would be in the individual markets because of the employer mandate, the individual mandate. It turns out there’s only ten. When the CBO scores this, they assume that magically it's a bill from 10 million people in the individual market up to 16 million people before they even do some scoring. And so he's playing games on that side.

On the Medicaid expansion, this bill --

EMANUEL: Wait a second. Wait -- hold on. The Medicaid expansion is real. Taking $800 billion out of Medicaid is not going to expand the number of people who are covered.


EMANUEL: And the second point I would make is, there is no freedom in this bill for people who have pre-existing conditions. This completely removes the promise to them that if you have a pre-existing condition you can have affordable insurance.

WALLACE: OK. Michael?

NEEDHAM: So the problem is Zeke’s point, is that this bill actually keeps all -- the -- not all, it takes away what was created by Dr. Emanuel and others, which was an incentive in Medicaid to insure able-bodied people for states who have more able-bodied people rather than more vulnerable populations, like the disabled. It takes away that dis-incentive, but it actually keeps the federal subsidy for the Medicaid expansion population. And so Zeke’s not being entirely fair on that point.

HUME: And -- and remember this, Chris, the triumph of ObamaCare is this coverage for pre-existing conditions, which basically defeats the whole idea of insurance, which is -- for example, in the automobile insurance market, if you could wait till you had a wreck and then buy insurance and have the repairs cover, that's comparable to what we're doing here.

EMANUEL: But, Brit, if I have cancer --

HUME: Let me finish. Hold on, let me finish. Can I please finish?

WALLACE: We’ve got 90 second (ph).

HUME: The idea of insurance is that you purchase it to guard against risks and things that may occur in the future. It's not that you purchase the coverage after you’re already sick.

EMANUEL: But if --

HUME: So that -- so once -- once that idea is gone, ObamaCare is essential it remains.

WALLACE: You’ve got -- you’ve got 20 seconds.

EMANUEL: If I have cancer, through no fault of my own, I didn’t hit a car, I need to have insurance to cover me. This bill does nothing for those people. It only makes the price of their insurance ever higher. Cancer patients and patients with multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease get completely --

WALLACE: Gentlemen --

EMANUEL: Written out of coverage by this bill.

WALLACE: We are -- we are not going to settle this. And, guess what, we don't have to because we’re going to have more time to talk about it. But let's bring you all back and have the conversation.

Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, our "Power Player of the Week," the man behind Donald Trump's tweets.


WALLACE: Remember when President Trump took office and people wondered whether he would give up Twitter? Well, as we told you back in February, that was never a question for the president and one trusted aide. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."


DAN SCAVINO, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA: Just directly reaching out to what we call the Trump train out there, the movement, and delivering your message directly to the American people.

WALLACE (voice-over): Dan Scavino is describing his job as White House director of social media. Getting Donald Trump's message out unfiltered by the press or anyone else. When the president took office, there was some question whether he would keep tweeting.

TRUMP: Let me ask you, should I keep a Twitter going are not? Keep it going?

WALLACE: And why not? Mr. Trump now has 113 million followers on eight different White house and personal platforms.

WALLACE (on camera): How important is that, that it's his authentic voice reaching directly to the supporters?

SCAVINO: It's very important. It is him speaking, his mind as president of the United States of America.

WALLACE (voice-over): Scavino spends his day near the president.

SCAVINO: He’ll start speaking and tweet, which I know is a tweet, and that we will simply send it out. He's been called the Hemingway of Twitter many times with 140 characters. There’s so many times that he’ll give me a message when we’re traveling or in the office and it stops at 139 characters.

WALLACE: Of course that’s during working hours. Then there are the tweets the president types himself early in the morning or late at night.

SCAVINO: I get a little bing, as we like to say, and I get the tweet and then I’ll take that tweet and amplify it onto Instagram, as well as his Facebook account.

WALLACE: This is the Trump Facebook page, filled with official announcements, presidential musings and behind the scenes video that Scavino takes.

WALLACE (on camera): As he’s dictating a tweet, either in the campaign or now as president, have you ever said to him, maybe not?

SCAVINO: There’s been times, but not too often. But I've always believed in -- and being with the man from day one is, let Trump be Trump.

TRUMP: Did anybody ever hear of Dan? He's become quite famous in social media.

WALLACE (voice-over): Scavino was a mini celebrity on the campaign trail, as one of candidate Trump’s inner circle. But he goes back a lot longer than that. They met when Scavino was 16 working at a country club in suburban New York.

SCAVINO: Often when he would come up, I would either for (ph) caddy or clean his clubs upon departure of the golf course. And he said to me, he said, you’re going to work for me one day.

WALLACE: He ended up running a Trump golf course, but was about to start his own social media business when he heard the boss might run for president.

WALLACE (on camera): Do you ever think to yourself, Dan Scavino, 16-year-old caddy, assistant to the president?

SCAVINO: It's overwhelming. It's surreal. But we’re here. And we’re here to serve the American people.

WALLACE (voice-over): Now Scavino spend more time around Donald Trump than almost any member of his staff, in a relationship that’s close to family.

SCAVINO: He knows I'm there for him. He knows I have his back.

Everything we've been through, nobody is taking more incoming than Donald J. Trump. And to be with him in the foxhole, and it’s just -- just being here in the White House, when everybody said, and I can't say it enough, you he zero chance, Scavino, what are you doing?


WALLACE: Like his boss, Scavino takes to his personal Twitter account to defend the administration. He got a warning earlier this year for violating the Hatch Act when he urged Trump supporters to vote against a Republican congressman who opposed the president's policies.

And that's it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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