Sen. James Lankford on Russia probe: Facts are the top priority

This is a rush transcript from "The First 100 Days," March 31, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: President Trump plowing ahead preparing to call out foreign nations accused of cheating on U.S. trade deals as Congress inches closer to a final showdown in the fight to confirm the next Supreme Court justice. I'm Martha MacCallum and this is day 71 of the first 100. Despite big moves to meet campaign promises, the Trump administration facing more questions in the on-going investigations of the Trump campaign and Russia.

New reports on the Senate Intelligence Committee requesting -- rejecting requests from former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for immunity from prosecution, if he agrees to testify before Congress. White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer, remarking earlier today that the President is not afraid of what Flynn might say.

And President Trump for his part, has thrown his support behind his former top adviser, tweeting this, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch-hunt, excuse for big election loss by media and Dems of historic proportion", he writes. But that is not what President Trump and Mr. Flynn said about immunity deals during the 2016 campaign, back when Hillary Clinton's advisers were under the microscope, during her email scandal. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, R-UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The reason they get immunity, is because they did something wrong. If they didn't do anything wrong, they don't think in terms of immunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are given immunity that means that you have probably committed a crime.


MCCALLUM: So there is that. Chief Washington Correspondent Ed Henry joins us now with the very latest on a very busy Friday from the White House. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Martha, very interesting because it was a contentious White House briefing for Sean Spicer, question after question about this Russia investigation. He was playing a lot of defense. First, batting down questions about General Mike Flynn, insisting the President and other higher-ups in the White House are not worried if the general does cut some sort of immunity deal with investigators on the hill or with the FBI.

Also pushing back on questions about Devin Nunes, the house intelligence chairman and why he had that mysterious visit to the White House grounds and whether, in fact, it was White House staffers who were passing on that Intel that Nunes, the chairman, suggests backs up some of the President's claims that President Trump and some of his advisers may have faced surveillance by the Obama team backdooring the presidential transition, interesting, because Spicer also played some offense, saying that the real focus should be on Bill and Hillary Clinton. Their own ties to Vladimir Putin paid speeches, that Uranium deal with the Clinton foundation and then Spicer, of course, attacked the press as well.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, we talked about what door someone came in, what day it happened. There is a - there is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected classified information, leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties. And the potential that that happened should concern every single American.


HENRY: Now, this very busy day being capped off as well with the top Democrat on that House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, going to the White House to see the same intelligence that Devin Nunes saw as well. So that he has a share shot of it. Schiff now saying that he believes the entire House Intelligence Committee, as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee, should get access to this intelligence so it's not just about partisanship, everybody can see what exactly the evidence is, to back up any claims that there was surveillance. Martha?

MACCALLUM: All right. Ed, thank you very much. So here now, Republican Senator James Lankford, is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator, good to have you here tonight, welcome to you.


MACCALLUM: As you start to take this whole thing on, there are so many layers to this. What is your top priority? What is the Senate Intelligence Committee's top priority here?

LANKFORD: Yes, obviously, getting the facts, remains the top priority. We're going to have the facts come out and the facts need to lead us wherever we need to go. This is not new to us. We have worked on this for the last five months. The Senate Intelligence Committee as you know, many people may not, though, works every single week, multiple times a week. We deal with a lot of complicated difficult issues. This is one of those. But you got Russian interference in our election.

How do we prepare for the next elections? How do they find ways to be able to engage with us? Was there any collusion or connection there? What did that look like? How were the Russians trying to reach out to individuals here? All of those questions have to be there. Whether leaks and how did those leaks get out, because that is also a crime that's out there. All these things have to be answered. It's a very complicated issue but we are going through it step-by-step.

MACCALLUM: Yes. So would you say that the third part of that, that you mentioned in the end in terms of the leaks, the question that Sean Spicer brought up today, whether or not the Obama Administration was surveilling members of the Trump transition team in order to basically find dirt on them? Is that something that you will address in your investigation?

LANKFORD: No. We absolutely should address. We have to be able to figure out how information was getting out that was classified information into the public arena. Now, that doesn't happen accidently. That's someone who has access to it that's finding a way to be able to get that out. Through a friendly reporter, to be able to get it out and post it, whatever way they can to try to be able to get that information. Those are classified documents.

When you deal with sources and methods and how we gather information, that hurts us long term in our Intelligence and if anyone has done for political gain, something that actually affects us in our National Security long term, that is an absolute criminal offense.

MACCALLUM: All right. In the terms of Mike Flynn and the question of immunity, the President has said that he wants him to testify. And Sean Spicer was asked, you know, is there - does Mike Flynn have anything on the President of the United States? And he said no. That was his answer. Would you ever consider granting him immunity for that?

LANKFORD: Well, that is something that the Chairman has to be able to determine. They'll go to the negotiating process, to be able to determine exactly how that is done. I would tell you, we've reached out to quite a few witnesses. They have voluntarily committed to be able to come and we're working through it about 20 different witnesses right now. And so that's an on-going process that we have. We have others that we are in negotiation with.

But at the end of the day, we want to be able to visit with as many people as possible that are in the process. Though some names that you may know, that have been in the media and some names that no one has heard of, but that we think were a part of this process.

MACCALLUM: What do you think about what has happened in the press for Devin Nunes?

LANKFORD: It's been painful for Devin Nunes. I would say for Devin, we have not talked in several months through this whole process. The Senate and House Committee were each running our own independent investigation. I would encourage Devin to always make sure he receives an information to at least share it with the ranking member of the committee to make sure that they do that in the days ahead. But I can tell you as a person who is a Christian, I also believe in forgiveness and redemption.

They've got to be able to find a way to be able to bury the hatchet and be able to move on as a committee because the work of the committee is so exceptionally important.

MACCALLUM: Indeed it is. Senator Lankford, thank you very much. Good to have you here tonight, sir.

LANKFORD: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So new reaction to a series of fierce denials coming out of the Kremlin, starting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, is purely political. Watch this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: The anti-Russian card is plagued by different political forces inside the United States to trade on that and consolidate their positions inside.


MACCALLUM: So the same was heard from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who told our next guest, "This is a Russiaphobic instrument. Apparently, the Obama administration, the elite in the Democratic Party decided that the American people should be brainwashed without any facts without any proof. Paul Saunders joins us now. He is Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest and a former State Department Official in the Bush Administration.

Paul, good to have you with us, you know, this is a fascinating interview that you did. So thank you for joining us tonight.


MACCALLUM: In terms of Lavrov, how would you say he views the difference between the Obama administration and the Trump administration?

SAUNDERS: Well, Minister Lavrov had a lot to say about the Obama Administration. He had a number of complaints about the Obama Administration, that the administration had a superiority complex, that the Obama Administration felt that it had the right to decide how the world was run, including right up to Russia's borders. In the case of the Trump Administration, obviously, it's early days but he was certainly very positive about his initial meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in bon a few weeks ago.

And he seemed to be looking for an opportunity to work with the administration in Syria. Look, I mean, there are people in Syria and elsewhere who are actively working to kill Americans. The Russian government at this point, is not trying to do that. If relationship goes really bad, I think we have to envision a possibility of more Russian weapons going to Iran, more Russian weapons going to North Korea, more Russian weapons going to China, Russian weapons going to the Taliban.

MACCALLUM: Yes, fascinating.

SAUNDERS: These are things to be quite concerned about.

MACCALLUM: Paul Saunders, thank you so much, good to have you with us tonight.

SAUNDERS: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, still ahead, the media may be purposely ignoring some of the facts as the backlash to House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes continues. Who better to talk to about that than Howard Kurtz. And then we will talk to Congressman Pete Hoekstra and Austan Goolsbee and their take on it, plus, President Trump, warning that his upcoming meeting with the Chinese President could get a little bit difficult at times. We will take a look at what's ahead.


TRUMP: We can't continue to allow China to rape our country. And that's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world.



MACCALLUM: Tonight in our "Media Conflict" segment, if you haven't been paying too close attention to the ins and outs of the complicated Devin Nunes story, it may sound something like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aren't there enough questions that he should, at the very least, recuse himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign and Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question about whether he is clueless or corrupt or both, is really the only question left in this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House Intelligence Committee under the bizarre leadership of Chairman Devin Nunes, offers, in effect, zero hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who decided that Devin Nunes was qualified --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- was qualified to be the House Intel Chair.


MACCALLUM: Lots of chuckles and snickers. But as Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal points out, she tries to cut through what she sees as somewhat surface reporting so far on this story. She writes this, "To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly, she writes, on the incoming administration. And here is Chairman Nunes.


DEVIN NUNES, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration. Details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.


MACCALLUM: She also says that Mr. Nunes said that the subjects of the conversations and the intercepts had nothing to do with the subject of Russia.


NUNES: I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia.


MACCALLUM: And she points out that surveillance named or unmasked specific Trump officials.


NUNES: I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked.


MACCALLUM: So the national review's Victor Davis Hanson writes about it this way, "He, Nunes, is the new target in an already long line of those targeted by the media for forced resignations. Here now Fox News Resident Media Expert, host of Media Buzz Howard Kurtz. Howie, good to see you today.

It's also worth pointing out and Strassel points this out in her piece that one of the biggest headlines, early on the Nunes story, was that he unequivocally pointed out that the President was wrong when he said that the Obama administration was wiretapping Trump Tower. So she is claiming that, you know, he has had a pretty clear through line despite the fact that it's not being presented that way at all in the media. Do you think that's fair?

HOWARD KURTZ, "MEDIABUZZ" HOST: Well, Devin Nunes has become a pinata for the media and he's been a (INAUDIBLE) of partisanship on both sides. But look, we, in the media, don't know whether these explosive allegations about Obama Administration spying on or unmasking of President-elect Trump and his aides are true, because we haven't seen the classified information that Nunes saw.

What we do know, I think it's fair to say as the Congressman Nunes has been rather clumsy in his handling of this announcing he had this new information and rushing over to the White House to brief President Trump. Then belatedly acknowledging he had seen this information on White House grounds and now, of course, the New York Times saying that his two sources of this information were, in fact, on the White House staff.

MACCALLUM: Yes. And that's a good way to put it. I mean, some of this has been clumsily handled. And I think that that's something that even he, you know, just basically in his own words, suggested at one point that, you know, maybe he could have handled the traffic on this a little bit differently. But as you rightly point out, Howie, and as journalists across this country should also recognize, we do not know yet the contents of these documents. So, you know, we all make the mistake of getting out over our skis sometimes and then having to backpedal. So as a journalist, aren't you in a better position, if you say, "Let's wait and see?"

KURTZ: Yes, we don't know. Let's wait and see, if not, prove it. These are all things that journalists should say more often than they do, but there is this, sort of, you know, the pressure of the news cycle, everybody has got to match or talk about or analyze the latest scoop. It's kind of amazing, Martha, that the media are in such tizzy over Devin Nunes, who I guarantee you, six months ago, 99% of the country had never heard of.

Now, Adam Schiff the ranking Democrat on the committee has also been partisan. There is, I think, a cloud over that investigation. The more dignified Senate Intelligence Committee probe, I think, has gotten much higher marks because they actually are trying a little bit harder to be bipartisan.

MACCALLUM: But one of the points that Strassel makes is that he has actually been quite transparent, you know, whether or not you like the way he is dealing with it and, you know, people can write about it and viewers and listeners can judge based on what they think, but when we -- as we map out all these sound bites, he has put down the markers of where he has been on this, pretty clearly, throughout the course of it, Has he not?

KURTZ: Devin Nunes has been pretty transparent to a point. But once he did get a chance to see this material, and I assume eventually it will come out and people can judge for themselves, you know, he made a point saying he couldn't share it with other members of the committee, so that looked like a Republican, perhaps, trying to help a president of his own party.


KURTZ: Now, the White House blatantly saying, oh yes, we will share that with all the committee members. Had they done that a week ago, there wouldn't be as much of a partisan flap.

MACCALLUM: Yes, and that is underway as we all know. Howie, thank you very much. So here now with more, Pete Hoekstra, Former House Intel Committee Chair who also served as National Security Adviser for the Trump campaign and Austan Goolsbee, Former Chief Economist for President Obama. Gentlemen, welcome. Good to have both of you here. Let me start with you, Pete. You just listened to that conversation and to the statements by Nunes and Kimberley Strassel's piece in the Wall Street Journal today. What do you make of her argument?

PETE HOEKSTRA, FORMER HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE CHAIR: I think her argument is - it's right on. I'm sure Devin has been a little bit clumsy going through the process. But, you know, you take a look at this, this is a pattern. The Democrats didn't show a whole lot of interest in Lois Learner and the IRS targeting that went - that took place there. When the CIA Director Brennan, when he abused his powers, and investigated, and had his people hack into the computers of Senator Feinstein's staff on the Intelligence Committee, the Democrats were silent. So I'm not at all surprised that they really don't have much of an interest into taking a look at what happened in the Obama Oval Office.

MACCALLUM: Austan, you know, that's the charge, selective outrage. Partisan, selective outrage and going after Devin Nunes. I mean, you saw in all those clips, it's been merciless out there for him. And, you know, I mean, you have to ask yourself, you know, what - you know, sort of what - I mean, he is not out there trying to ruin his career. You know, I mean, he is trying to do the right thing, one way or the other. And he will be judged based on the evidence when it actually does come out.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST: Well, look, the oldest golden rule of information is, nobody covers up things that are favorable to them. So, when Chairman Nunes sneaks into the White House, literally, in the dead of night, and apparently is given information by White House staffers that he then the next day, gets up and claims that he brought to the White House. And then, people say wow, that is a pretty inflammatory charge.

What is that evidence? And he says well, I can't show it to you. I can't show it to other members of the committee. I can't turn that evidence over to the senate investigation. You know that people are going to assume and probably not wrongly, that that means the evidence is not nearly as clear as what he is portraying. And Chairman Nunes brought this on himself. He is not acting in --

MACCALLUM: Austan is right. There's plenty of, you know, sort of, weird flags that have gone up this week that do have the hallmark of the kind of things that we have seen in the past in cover-ups. Is that what you think we are seeing here and if not, why not?

HOEKSTRA: Well, number one, Devin has never had actual possession of the documents. He saw them in the White House. The process was simple. Someone discovered these documents that they were - that they thought were suspicious at the White House. They reviewed it with the attorneys. The attorneys said you need to share this with Devin Nunes, with the intelligence committee. They shared it with him. He made a move and got in front of his skis on this.

But the bottom line is, this information is going to come out. It's going to be turned over to the intelligence committees, both intelligence committees. All the members are going to take a look at it. I don't think it's national-security-sensitive-information. I think we're all going to be able to see this. It may take a few months to get declassified and get approval from the people who are unmasked that they are okay with this information moving forward.

When that happens, I think we are going to see, potentially some, you know, some things that are tremendous concern that occurred in the White House, in the Oval Office, but, this is not going to be a guessing game. This information will all come out public.

MACCALLUM: Yes. That's worth pointing out so far. There is a lot of guessing game going on and we all have to sit tight and see what the actual evidence is. Thank you so much, you guys, Austan and Pete, good to see you both as always.

GOOLSBEE: Thank you.

HOEKSTRA: Yes, thank you.

MACCALLUM: All right. So more timeout tonight on Capitol Hill with Judge Gorsuch's confirmation vote which is fast approaching. Can President Trump's pick, get pass the filibuster that Senator Schumer is now threatening for him? We've got the latest vote count ahead. Plus, this, President Trump making moves on trade just a week ahead of his expected visit from the Chinese President. Representative Sean Duffy and Democratic Strategist Mark Alderman here to discuss, coming up next.


TRUMP: I'm going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator, the greatest in the world.




TRUMP: We're going to label China a currency manipulator, which is what they're doing. They're taking our business, they're taking our jobs, and I have no problem with China. What I have a problem is our leaders allowing them get away with this stuff.


MACCALLUM: That was the tough talk on the campaign trail. And the suspension is starting to build ahead of President Trump's actual one-on-one meeting with President Xi of China. Mr. Trump potentially priming the pumps of it earlier today. He signed a pair of executive orders on trade, looking to take some chunks out of a trade deficit that he largely blames on crooked China's practices. The president further - giving the impression that he will deliver some hard truths to the Chinese leader, tweeting that the meeting will be, "a very difficult conversation. Kevin Corke has the details today from the White House. Kevin?


KEVIN CORKE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR FOX NEWS: Great to be with you, Martha. You're right. A couple reasons, I think, behind those executive orders that you just talked about, look, core values and campaign promises. The president said if he were elected, he would defend and support American workers and manufacturers and, frankly, I think that's the best way to look ahead to the expected meeting with China's President Xi, part of a very busy foreign policy week, by the way.

He'll also be meeting with leaders of Jordan and Egypt. Now, the meeting with Xi, of course, will happen at the Southern White House Mar-a-Lago. And ahead of that meeting, the President signed those executive orders aimed at combating foreign trade abuses that are contributing to the U.S. half trillion-dollar trade deficit. And here is the key, Martha, as it relates to China. White House officials say this is really all about fairness and balancing the need for trade with an important global partner while also having a more balanced economic relationship.


TRUMP: The field has not been a level field. Jobs have been leaving our country, going to China and Mexico and lots of other places. And you'll be seeing what's happening over the next few weeks. It should be very interesting for you to watch.


CORKE: Very interesting to watch, indeed. And as you pointed out, the President, of course, heads to Twitter to, sort of, preview this big kind of meetings and he said, and I'm quoting now, "the meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one, and that we can no longer have massive trade deficits, there it is, and job losses. American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives. And the figure behind that tweet, Martha, frankly, is a stunning one.

The U.S. trade deficit in 2016 was $347 billion with China alone. That is, of course, the largest such deficit among U.S. trade partners. And that's obviously going to be at the top of the agenda in his conversation with President Xi. Martha?


MACCALLUM: Kevin, thank you very much. Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Mark alderman, a Democratic Strategist joins us now. You know, I find it so interesting, gentlemen, when you look back at, sort of, the history of Donald Trump, President Trump now, but as a businessman, this is something that has been gnawing at him for many, many years. And, you know, you look back to early 2000s or I think it was 2010, actually, he had a dispute with American window makers because he was buying windows that were made in China and overseas. But it was something that was, you know, clearly bothering him that he couldn't get the product that he wanted that was so much cheaper in China. If you look at the bottom of this paper and his characteristic way he wrote on the bottom China's artificially low currency makes it hard for U.S. companies to compete. I would much rather buy U.S. and do much business with Pella. The U.S. product is better. And he is going to have his have his face to face, Sean Duffy with the president of China and try as president of the United States now to renegotiate some of these deals. How is it going to go?

REP. SEAN DUFFY, R-WISCONSIN: First, I think it's about priming the pump with the Chinese leader. As you reported we have $350 billion trade deficit with China. Our total trade deficit is half a trillion dollars. Most of this deficit is with China and I think he has to bring up important points like their lack of respect for intellectual property. Their dumping of their products in the U.S. but what I think, Martha, what he is doing well, the president, he is not taking a flame thrower to trade. I think it's important to note that trade is really good. We want to make sure we have fair trade. What the president is doing is saying we have to have a study to look at trade abuses so we have the best information possible to see, how we can have rifle strikes to make sure we make the trade imbalance go away so we have fair competition between China and the U.S. You make sure you have the best information possible.

MACCALLUM: There are so many areas of contention with China, obviously Mark. Any sort of string that you pull on whether its trade or anything else, you have to deal with their other policy issues as well. Where do you think those conversations are going to go?

MARK ALDERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Trump couldn't cut a deal with Mark Meadows. So I have my doubts about his ability to negotiate with the Chinese. I think we are going to see we are going to see from more theater for Mar-a-Lago which is not a place for serious diplomacy. As you just said, you cannot look at this in isolation. The hipbone is connected to the thigh bone. The biggest worry for China in the world is Russia. In the context of this Russian scandal, Trump is going to have to convince them that he can be trusted with Russia, which is something he is having trouble convincing the American people of.

MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, you know, most Democrats are very up in arms with the belief that, you know, I think most people agree that there was an attempt by Russia to meddle in the United States election. And there are also indications that China has been up to those sorties of tricks as well. It's interesting to me that one thing that gets, I think, almost lost in the middle of this whole discussion is the impact of that, and international politics around the globe and the importance of making sure that all of that, you know, is confronted in a very forceful way.

So, you know, there is a lot to come up -- there is so much to sort of take on with China and let me go back to Sean Duffy on this. When you look at these other things that President Trump has to deal with him, and is that the right scenario? Is it the right place, Mar-a-Lago, to be dealing with these kinds of really huge issues that are on the plate?

DUFFY: I think it's nice to put people at ease and Mar-a-Lago, I hear it's a nice place. I've never been there and be in a beautiful setting to sit down and talk about difficult things is a really, I think positive environment. Martha, I think this goes back to the promises that President Trump made to the American people and people in my district. I'm going to fight for your job. I'm going to fight for you. I'm going to make trade fair again and when you have last 8 years president who have forgotten men and women all over this country, because a president not willing to fight for them. Donald Trump now said I am going to take a hard look at trade practices unfair to the American worker. I'm going to stand up and fight for you. I don't care if it's at the White House or Mar-a-Lago or where is that. I have a president who is a fighter and scrapper and look out for my people and the rest of the Americans who have been left behind and trade is a big part of why they have been left behind.

MACCALLUM: He met with manufacturers today, Mark, at the White House to assure them of just that.

ALDERMAN: Manufacturing jobs are not coming back because Donald Trump threatens China. As you said a moment ago, Martha, this is a much bigger situation than simply sitting down at Mar-a-Lago. And I'm going to add one issue to the agenda that I hope comes up. North Korea. There is a lot of business to be done with China. And after what they saw last week from this White House, I have my doubts.

MACCALLUM: Thanks, you guys. Good to see you both. It is that time of the week report card time on a Friday. Our panel is here to come up with their grades for the Trump administration as we finish up week 10. The Fox ticking down, Democrats are doubling down on getting a mainstream Judge on the Supreme Court. Could the Democrats threat against Neil Gorsuch back fire for them in a big way? Alex Conant and Richard Fowler debate, straight ahead. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Judge Gorsuch fails to earn 60 votes. We should change the nominee. Not the rules.



MACCALLUM: New developments tonight as the Supreme Court. Battle enters the home stretch as the clock is ticking down. Democrats are taken to threatening Republicans, wielding fear of the nuclear option as a weapon against the Gorsuch nomination.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nominee for the Supreme Court should not be approved by a razor thin majority.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have a nominee that can't get 60 votes, you should change the nominee and not change the rules. That is the bottom line. We made the decision, conscious decision, thoughtful, debated it in our caucus that it was better for the country to keep the 60 vote threshold on the highest court in the land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trigger the nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's hope he doesn't.


MACCALLUM: So, there you are. Experts are ringing the alarm bells promising that this kind of rancor could essentially kill the senate known as the great deliberative body forever, potentially, right? Joining me now is Alex Conant, Republican strategist and Richard Fowler Fox News contributor and senior fellow at the new leaders' council. I think it is worth taking that sort of big picture view of this, gentleman. Because these are the guys that are supposed to be, and women, supposed to be the sort of the states men of the United States government, right? They're the deliberate operators. They are the people who sort of think things through and come to some sort of wise conclusion. At this point, if they enact this Filibuster and then the nuclear option that follows Richard, everybody might as well go home, I mean there won't be anything to deliberate.

RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SENIOR FELLOW FOR THE NEW LEADERS COUNSEL: There is some truth to what you are saying here, Martha. Here is how I fall on this issue, right? I think Neil Gorsuch did a great job in his testimony. Do I agree with a lot of his principles, in fact, no, but we are filling the seat with Scalia, who is the far right of the court. Never agreed with Scalia either. Here is where I think the Trump administration needs to go. There is, according to my count, about nine Democrats. They need six of those nine to prevent any sort of filibuster. So I think it's prudent upon President Trump to do what Barack Obama didn't do with Merrick Garland and get down to the hill and work on loosening up. They have already loosened up two as of yesterday, loosening up the rest of these Democratic voters.

MACCALLUM: A lot of these senators in red states that Trump won. If they want to save their own election prospect down the road that is exactly what had to have gone into the decision of Heidi Heitcamp and Joe Manchin, right?

FOWLER: And to add to that this is not Heidi Heitcamp or Joe Manchin Supreme Court nominee, this is Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee. Want him on the court he has got to get down there and campaign for him. That is what we are not seeing from this White House.

MACCALLUM: Alex, do you agree.

ALEX CONANT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't agree with that at all. I mean let's remember it was only a few weeks ago when President Trump rolled out the nominee in fantastic prime time event in the east wing of the White House and it was very well received. And then from there it's not appropriate for the president to be strong arming members of the nominee should stand or fall on his own accord. And by all accounts he has done very, very well in the hearings to date. It is the Democrats who are reactively opposing everything Donald Trump does who are now insisting on a new 60 vote standard for the nominee, which no nominee has ever been subjected to a 60 vote standard before. In fact, there are two Republican nominees or two Republican justices, Republican appointed justices on the Supreme Court today Aledo and Thomas who neither received 60 votes in their final vote. Now, Schumer and the other left wing senators are doing everything they can to oppose Trump. It is ridiculous that they are insisting on 60 vote threshold here.

MACCALLUM: Understood. The point is Schumer is representing really the furthest left of his party right now. But we know that there are voters in many of these states who ended up voting for Donald Trump who were Democrats who had voted for Barack Obama several times before. So, I'm listening to what Richard is saying. Is it possible that, you know, to carve out sort of a Trumpest coalition among some of those people and say, look, you know, let's get together, I realize this sounds like la la land, but, I mean, seriously, if they could do that Richard, it would help some of these Democrats to get reelected in these tough districts as well as Republicans.

FOWLER: I think that is absolutely right, Martha. I think we are missing the point here. If we say that the Supreme Court nominee has never been sort of mired down in politics, I think that is false. I mean, we saw Merrick Garland didn't even get a hearing and he sat on the hill for 100 and some odd days and Republicans refused to give him a hearing. The Supreme Court is a political football here. Both parties play sides on this. Both parties play politics. If Donald Trump wants his nominee he has to do more than a prime time address. He could tweet about it. He hasn't tweeted about it is he more concerned about Mike Flynn than Supreme Court nominee.

MACCALLUM: All right we got to leave it there. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Good to see you both.

FOWLER: Thanks Martha.

CONANT: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Still ahead my quote of the night takes a look at some very revealing comments from Donald Trump, nearly 30 years ago. But, first, it is Friday, so you know what that means. Time for our weekly report card on the Trump administration week 10 is what they are grading, Chris Stirewalt, Mollie Hemingway and Jessica Deloach are here with their grades right after this.


MACCALLUM: So it is Friday. It is the end of week 10. Yes, it has only been 10 weeks of the Trump presidency so far. It's still just a baby, really. In just a minute we will have our panel grade the president's performance. Let's take a look back at the week that was.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House said tax reform isn't partisan. But it surely will be if they only propose massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I had to do is I need a place that I could actually go and find this information and review it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an aggressive agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been moving quickly on this aggressive agenda. We want to make sure we get it right. One of those places that he hopes to find common ground with senate Democrats here tonight is the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to acknowledge the truly amazing people behind me on this stage, our incredible coal miners.


We love our coal miners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a reason to recuse myself I might consider it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Events of last week call that so seriously into question that he really ought to recuse himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing that I see that is problematic in him conducting an investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll admit that I voted for him, but I have got a job in the United States senate. And I take that job extremely seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't do this, then he will just go work with Democrats to try and change ObamaCare and that is not -- that is hardly a conservative thing. He is going to get the votes from wherever he can.


MACCALLUM: Here now Chris Stirewalt Fox News politics editor. Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at the federalist and Jessica Deloach, a Democratic strategist, welcome to all of you. It's been another whopper of a week. Chris, let me start with you as you look at grading week 10. What have you got?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DECISION DESK CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's a spares and strikes, a couple of gutter balls. The biggest problem is that coming off of the defeat of Trump care last week or the temporary defeat of Trump care last week, the urgent necessity for this the administration was to show forward progress, speak in a clear voice. And move on to demonstrate to their supporters and people who didn't support them that this administration is capable and that up to the task and moving forward on things that are popular and instead, most of the week was spent fighting about Devin Nunes. You had at the end General Mike Flynn with his seemingly out of left field request for immunity. And it was all off topic and it was all on a topic that was not helpful for the administration, so, c minus.

MACCALLUM: Why do you think their wheels are spinning in that way, Chris?

STIREWALT: There was a piece and I don't want to put too much into anybody's reporting but there was a piece from Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen at Axios that basically talked about administration with knives out at each other's throats and the constant infighting and they had their first basic summary execution. They fired a senior staffer, deputy chief of staff it sounds like. And this goes on and on and all this tumult. And none of this gets Trump where he needs. He needs behind him executing on this stuff and not adding drama to an already dramatic president.

MACCALLUM: Jessica, let's move on with you. What's your thought take a look back at the week. What's your grade?

JESSICA DELOUCH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This has been a very, very rough week. Apparently I'm a pretty harsh grader. Obviously, right out of gate, what we have seen with this administration is a huge policy failure that came out of the gate wanting to talk about making good on a campaign promise which was repeal and replace. What we have learned is that they didn't have a plan that their own party could get on board with coming out of gate with a huge policy like that is not good for any president. So there is going to be some recovery that needs to happen and hopefully for President Trump that could happen with tax reform. But I don't think that is going to be the case, because we know that his party is already sending signals that they don't trust the White House to handle the reforms that they have been waiting decades to make happen. Then you also have low approval rating. So one of the things we know just based on recent Gallup poll or data is that his approval rating now is lower than President Obama's ever was during his eight years in office. That is certainly not a very good look for President Trump.

MACCALLUM: Molly, let's look how you viewed the week in terms of your grade. You gave him a d for week number 10. Why?

MOLLIE HEMMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST SENIOR EDITOR: Yeah. This week was wasted by a lack of focus and just distraction. He repeatedly went after the freedom caucus trying to blame them for the failure of the healthcare legislation even though it was massively unpopular among both moderate and conservative Republicans. Even more than that, the freedom caucus actually represents the vibrant base of the party. These are people who understood the Trump movement before Trump even ran and people who have run far ahead of Donald Trump in their districts. They got a lot bigger percentage of the vote in their districts than Donald Trump did. So it is precisely the wrong type of group to go after. More than that, if he thinks he is going to work with moderate or liberal Democrats to advance his agenda rather than conservative Republicans that are not just unprincipled it's really unwise.

MACCALLUM: Chris, you are shaking your head, what are the prospects that he is going to peel off any of these Democrats that are so giddy that their idea resist movement appears to be working.

STIREWALT: Let's give Trump the benefit of the doubt and say is he trolling his own party and that he and Paul Ryan are doing good cop, bad cop on conservatives so he can say oh my gosh have you to vote for Trump care and do it now, because otherwise he is going to work with Democrats. If do you not have any Democratic allies, this is not a credible threat. Donald Trump doesn't have any Democratic allies he has Joe Manchin in so much he can say he is a Democrat still. That is it. He is not an incredible threat to beat up the members of his own party if he doesn't have Democratic allies. Democrats are waiting to see how the Russia stuff plays out. They will be very happy to see him slip on banana peels for the next three years.

MACCALLUM: We still have 30 seconds left, but Jessica there are Democrats that might work well for to be on board with some of what he wants given the fact he did very well in their home states like Joe Manchin, for example.

DELOUCH: Some the Democrats who would be on board with him in certain areas may do so, because they do not have the political capital to spin on other side that other Democrats can weigh in on. If they don't weigh in on any fight I don't think finance going to be the stuff that currently exists. A lot of the people are going to be worried about re-election right now. So much is up in the air. Democrats are going to have to be incredibly careful how they move forward with any criticism of the president before we have any resolution on what's going on for instance Nunes and Russia.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, guys. Good to see you, hopefully -- that means the Trump administration hopes your grades will be better next week. We're open to whatever you bring us next week. Good to see you all. Thank you very much.

STIREWALT: Happy Friday.

MACCALLUM: You too, happy Friday. We will be right back with my quote of the night which is a very interesting flashback to Donald Trump nearly 30 years ago. You will be very interested in what he said back then when we come back.


MACCALLUM: So for our quote of the night it is a flashback Friday and this issue is trade but not with China back in 1988, it was all about Japan.


TRUMP: We're a debtor nation. Something is going to happen over the next number of years with this country because you can't keep going on losing 200 billion and yet we let Japan come in and dump everything right in our markets. It's not free trade. They don't have laws against it they just make it impossible. They come over here. They sell their cars, their VCR and knock the hell out of our companies and hey, I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people. I mean you can respect somebody that is beating the hell out of you. But they are beating the hell out of this country.


MACCALLUM: Sounds familiar, right. That is day 71, week 10. Have a great weekend, everybody. O'Reilly is up next. See you back here on "The First 100 Days" on Monday.


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