Published August 28, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," August 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning everybody. Thanks for joining us. The worst may be yet to come from tropical storm, Harvey. The White House is facing backlash this morning over the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And the war of words between Senator Jeff Flake and President Trump is heating up. Good morning everyone, I'm Maria Bartiromo, thanks for being with me. This is "Sunday Morning Futures."
Houston under water, tropical storm Harvey is slamming the fourth biggest city in the country. The deadly storm dumping nearly 2 feet of rain already with more on the way. More than a thousand people have been rescued from historic flooding but many more are still stranded as we speak. The very latest on rescue operations this morning from Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick with us. Plus House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Congressman Michael McCaul is here.
Also the fallout from the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the President facing push back this morning from both sides of the aisle including House Speaker Paul Ryan. Was it the right time to make this move? I'll talk with former Congressman Jason Chaffetz about that. And then in the middle of a tough reelection battle, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake takes on President Trump. Will that tactic score many points against his GOP primary challenger Dr. Kelli Ward? She will join us live as we look ahead right now on "Sunday Morning Futures."
And we kick it off, of course, we're watching a very dangerous situation unfolding as we speak this hour in Southeastern Texas. Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, inundated with widespread and catastrophic flooding. Over 1,000 water rescues performed there overnight. So far, at least two have been confirmed dead. The number is expected to climb. Emergency responders are simply overwhelmed. Officials are telling people in the Houston area to call 911 only if you are in a life-threatening situation. If your life is in imminent danger. Griff Jenkins is live on the ground in Houston, Texas right now with the very latest. Griff good morning to you.
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: Good morning Maria. You know, the Harris County Flood Control calling this is the worst flood event in 500 years. The bayous 2,500 miles of them, the rivers cresting at points never before seen, even surpassing that of tropical storm Allison in 2001 that crippled this city. You see behind me, the HPD, Police Department, trying to assist with a motorist that seems to be stranded. We're on the west side of Houston, Maria, having just gotten off the overpass because many of the overpasses are absolutely stuck. Now, what -- you mentioned before, this is the catastrophic, life threatening event that they warned of, we know of one fatality confirmed. There are reports of more, but we know one confirmed of a woman overnight who drove into these flood waters, became stranded, got out and drowned. That's why they say turn around, don't drown.
Guess what? That advice now is no longer necessarily valid because if you turn around, there may be nowhere to go because it isn't one particular area of Houston that has been impacted. It's the entire city. These rain bands absolutely deluging the areas here, the low-lying areas because Houston is one of the most flood-prone parts of the country, cities that is. And what -- the message from the officials that you mentioned about don't call 911 unless you have a life threatening situation, that's because they are absolutely exhausted, stretched to their limits, and they need to get to the most critical ones. They're saying even in areas where you may be trapped in your house, a foot of water coming in, it is a horrific experience, but if it's not life threatening, just get to higher ground. The national weather service saying if worse comes to worse, get on your roof. And what you are seeing playing out now, just look down this street. You've got the lights out. That car way down there trying to get through, it's playing time and time again. The highways literally looking like rivers at this point, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Yes, I mean, we are watching on the screen as you're talking, Griff, real rescues situations happening as we speak. What do you expect in the area in the coming hours and days?
JENKINS: Hey, Maria, we expect worse to come. The battery is dying because we have been in this situation unable to get back to our hotel, so we're going to need to wrap before I lose the signal, but conditions are going to be worse and become historically horrific in the next 24 to 48 hours. Maria?
BARTIROMO: All right, we'll check back as the news develops. Thanks very much. Be safe there, Griff. Thank you. We want to get more on this right now. I'm joined right now by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. He joins me on the phone. Governor, thanks very much for joining us this morning. Can you characterize the impact here to the broader economy? Put this in context for us, please.
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK, TEXAS: Well, thank you, Maria. First of all, this storm is already record setting with maybe 20 or 24 more inches of rain to come, so the economic loss and impact is going to be even greater. You have a city of 2.5 million in Houston, in Harris County, which is the third largest county in the country, of another 2 million plus, so you have about 5 million people impacted that I would say right now generalizing across that entire area, most people are paralyzed in their neighborhoods. You can get out some areas, but some streets at some point, but eventually you will be blocked by water somewhere. And we're going to break in the rain today, maybe a little while for a few hours not much and then be pounded again overnight. The economic impact, Maria, will be in the billions. Now we have in Texas the economic stabilization fund called the rainy day fund.
Now, we have 10 billion in reserve. And that 10 billion is more than most states have combined. So it's a healthy balance, but our budget is over 100 billion a year, it's about 10 percent of our budget. So we do have that as a backup for times in economic downturns or crises like this, but our costs to individuals, many people don't have flood insurance. Many people, Mara, who have -- who have never flooded before who are now on their second floor or rooftop because the first floor is flooded. There will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands homes impacted. I mention this to (INAUDIBLE) last night. Put this in perspective for your viewers around the country. The distance from Rockport where the hurricane hits Thursday and devastate that small area is about 200 miles from Houston. That would be like a storm hitting New York and Boston being flooded. And that's the distances we're talking to.
All of those homes in between, and now, you know, Houston alone is larger than about 25 to 26 states in population. So now you have hundreds of thousands of people of Houston, San Antonio, many areas are under water, and that's another 200 miles away. So you have this massive area. It's too early to calculate, but it will be in the billions and billions. I've seen one report from CoreLogic that said 39 billion potential if everyone was hit. I've seen Forbes come out with report of 20 billion. Of course, our state will analyze all of this after the fact, but it will be in the billions. One of the most if not the most expensive storm ever.
BARTIROMO: Not only that but talk to us about the businesses in the area. I mean, we know the impact to the oil and gas refineries and the facilities, many are shut down. That's going to have a broad impact across the country; correct?
PATRICK: Yes, and of course, you know, my focus as Lieutenant Governor and Greg Abbott and President Trump and the White House has offered quick help and fast help to us, which we greatly appreciate. But my focus is on life, but on the business side, I know this is a business oriented show, we produce about 6 billion -- 6 million barrels of oil a day, refined product. We have about 2 million now offline so that's about a third. That's a rough number. Our refineries, to my knowledge, have not been damaged -- again, to my knowledge -- have not been damaged. The problem will be, Maria, of people being able to go to work. If you can't get out of your homes, then, of course, all of those people who work on those refineries are focused on their families and their homes until -- I would anticipate that we will have our refineries offline longer than people thought.
You know, at some point, you know, maybe they should be up and running Wednesday or Thursday, that's just a speculation. I really we don't because we don't know the impact of the rain. But that will have an economic impact as well. Plus we've already deployed -- the Governor has deployed 1,800 guardsmen. I'm sure there'll probably be more in search and rescue. We have 900 State Troopers now being pulled from all over the state in this area.
Local cost for first responders is going to be significant, just the cost of rebuilding and remodeling and there's always aback end to that, as the construction side, as the repair side, but there's going to be a tremendous economic impact to our business. You can't open your business today. No one can get to your place. If you are selling pizza, you know, or you are selling movie tickets, no one can get out. You're shut down. You know, I was supposed to be with you in a camera uplink today as you know and we couldn't get to the T.V. studio. In fact, one T.V. studio here has water on their first floor. This is -- this is going to have a tremendous economic impact.
But, Maria, even though this is a Texas sized storm, we will have a Texas sized effort and we're best prepared to handle this than any other place in the country, but it is going to be a long, long road, and some people -- and some people won't be able to open their businesses for days and weeks. And some people won't get back to their homes potentially for months.
BARTIROMO: Which is why the administration, the federal government was so fast in terms of responding to what Texas needs. Look, I know that it's hard to predict what's going to happen in the next couple of days in terms of the cleanup and the -- and the flooding because we don't know the impact of more rain coming. So we'll keep checking back with you. Governor, thank you for leadership. Thanks for joining us this morning.
PATRICK: Thank you. We appreciate the White House working with us quickly. And right now we're in rescue -- rescuing lives first and then after that, it's rescue and recovery, and then after that, that next stage comes to clean up and build back. But right now we're focused on lives and our first responders are brave and doing incredible job all across this vast region. Thank you, Maria.
BARTIROMO: All right, thank you. We'll be watching and check back of course. Thank you very much, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick there. More coming on the situation in Houston in a couple of moments plus another shakeup inside the Trump White House to report. The President is facing pushback from his own party this morning over the controversial pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz on the other side of this break. Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: more on the developments out of Texas but first to politics now. Fallout from a Presidential Pardon and a controversial Departure from the White House. President Trump facing backlash this morning for pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio convicted of contempt last month for ignoring a 2011 Court Order to stop profiling Latino drivers in immigration detentions. Meanwhile, Sebastian Gorka is out the White House saying it's better for the President to (INAUDIBLE) on the outside. A Former Counterterrorism Advisor says that that the populous movement that put President Trump in office is losing out to moderates like economic advisor Gary Kohn and Jared Kushner the president's son-in-law. Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz is joining me now. He's the former Chairman of Oversight Committee and Fox News Contributor. Good to see you, Sir. Thanks so much for joining us.
JASON CHAFFETZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning. Good morning.
BARTIROMO: Let's unpack here -- let's first talk about Sheriff Arpaio. What are your thoughts on the pardon from the President?
CHAFFETZ: I wish the President had waited until he was actually sentenced but nevertheless the President has the right to do that. And Joe Arpaio is a patriot in many people's books including mine. He served his community for decades. He's widely popular, elected multiple times and certainly in contrast to Barack Obama. President Obama commuted more than 1,700 people, so everything from drug dealers and counterfeiters, people who were engaged in forgery and certainly Chelsea Manning, you know, there's hardly a comparison to what Donald Trump is doing.
BARTIROMO: So what do you think is going on then, Jason? I mean, like one of the first things that we hear from Congressman Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House is that he doesn't agree with President Trump. Once again, you're seeing this indication that so many people in the party do not care if he succeeds or not, are not necessarily on his team, you've got critical economic plans in place right now, people are wondering if you are going to get tax reform, if the Congress is going to get tax reform done, and yet, continuations of divisions. Yesterday, Paul Ryan says, "I don't agree with the President."
CHAFFETZ: Well, I mean, the speaker gets his opinion, but again, let's focus on the Democrats here. I know the Speaker has been concerned that the President was picking on members of Congress, but under the Constitution, the President has the unilateral right to commute whatever sentence he wants. And for him to do one for somebody that he believes in and supports, it should hardly A, be a surprise, nobody should be surprised by that, but I don't think it does anything productive.
BARTIROMO: Which is why the question comes up about his own party not you know, backing him because you are right it's the Democrats who have been obstructionists and they don't want his agenda to get by, so they are doing everything that they can to get in front of it. Now, they are screaming outrage over the Confederate statues obviously and yet the Republicans are not backing the President. That's really what I'm getting at. And then there's all of this palace entry going on. Sebastian Gorka is out one of the President's early supporters. He told me just the other day, look, Maria, I can be a bigger help to the boss on the outside and that's why I'm doing it, the make America great and tie make America great people like the Democrats in the White House are keeping the White House on lockdown. What do you make of that?
CHAFFETZ: Well, he's got an important voice and he certainly was instrumental in helping to get the President elected. He's a very, very bright person on foreign policy, but again, here's the concern. When you take the Joe Arpaio situation, you take this Sebastian Gorka situation, what we're not talking about, what we wasted in August is talking about tax reform and laying the foundation. So we come in September, they have to do the debt ceiling, they've got to do the passing a budget. We've got these huge massive things, let alone health care and that's not where the discussion is. And somehow, we need the President and the Speaker and Mitch McConnell to get on the same page and put a unified message about tax reform on the table so the American people are ready for it when it comes up for a vote.
BARTIROMO: What do you think? What does your gut tell you, Jason? Do you think they're going to be able to get this done? I mean, at this point I'm betting on tax cuts not necessarily tax reform. And what do they have, 12 days once they get back to actually get real legislative victories?
CHAFFETZ: Well, look, there are 12 legislative days on the calendar, six of those are fly in and fly out days. I don't think tax reform has to get nor will it get done before the end of September. The real deadline there is funding the government, getting the border wall funding done plus be able to put in, you know, dealing with the debt ceiling. I think you are going to find that it's going to be -- they are going to probably put on those things. I think you'll see short-term continuing resolutions that's my guess in talking to my colleagues there. And by the time we get into late December, when nobody is paying attention, they'll goop it into one big nasty bill and then try to pass it then. That's my guess.
BARTIROMO: So you do think --
CHAFFETZ: I've seen this play before.
BARTIROMO: So, it sounds like you do think they'll get something done this year before the 2018 elections?
CHAFFETZ: I do. And like you, I worry that it's just going to be a tax cut as opposed to true tax reform. The fact that they haven't released something, that haven't marked it up yet is a key indicator to me that they are concerned about. I heard the speaker say the other day, well, there are multiple options on debt ceiling and I'm not worried about it. That -- let me decipher that for you. That means they don't have a plan that they can get passed, otherwise, they would lay it out there and champion it. That's my concern.
BARTIROMO: Real quick Jason, before you go. You were the Chairman of the Oversight commission -- Committee rather, are we expecting that this Awan case, this I.T. guy who worked with his entire family for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is that story going to get much bigger?
CHAFFETZ: Well, it should. This is very, very serious. He was somebody who has I.T. clearance who can surf into the House of Representatives, the ties to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This is a much, much more serious that will I think blossom. I think they probably let him sit there for a little bit to see who he was communicating with. But to think this was a lone operator would be naive at best. It is a very, very big story.
[10:20:06] BARTIROMO: Wow. Operating alone meaning -- I mean, it's more than bank fraud, it's what I hear?
BARTIROMO: Jason, thank you very much for joining us.
CHAFFETZ: Yes. I mean, look, this is very serious. Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Yes. Finish your point, Jason, I'm sorry, there is a delay, I apologize.
CHAFFETZ: No, no, I was just saying ,it's very, very serious and to be able to follow the trail electronically of where money was flowing, where information was flowing, I know they are on top of it, I know they were watching it before they actually arrested him, and I do think it is a much, much more serious situation.
BARTIROMO: Jason Chaffetz, good the see you, Sir, thanks very much. We will be watching that (AUDIO GAP). Meanwhile, tropical storm Harvey hammering Houston. Update on the situation in Texas coming up after this short break. Then, the President's showdown with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, we'll hear from his challenger, Kelli Ward, live next.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We are keeping a close watch on tropical storm Harvey this morning. The storm dumping heavy rains on Southeastern Texas, at least two people are dead. The City of Houston is dealing with historic flooding this morning. More rain is on the way. Crews are performing more than a thousand rescue operations. That happened overnight. And in just a few minutes, Texas Congressman and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul will join me live to talk about the rescue operations and where we are now.
We want to switch gears right now and talk about this, President Trump verbally sparring with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. Their feud intensifying as the race heats up for Flake's seat in the 2018 midterm elections. The President deeming encouraging competitors to seek Flake's seat. Flake responded by saying Trump could face a primary challenger himself in 2020. Joining me right now is Dr. Kelli Ward, former Republican Arizona State Senator and current GOP primary challenger for Senator Flake's Arizona Seat. Good to see you, Kelli. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.
KELLI WARD, FORMER ARIZONA STATE SENATOR: Good morning, Maria. We certainly are all praying for the people of Texas.
BARTIROMO: Yes, we are and we've got that covered. We're going to go back as news develops there. But Dr. Ward, give us your qualifications. Why you believe you should have that Senate seat. Make the case.
WARD: Well, I'll tell you, Maria. I was a very effective Arizona State Senator. I got things done in -- through the legislative process. I was able to put forth excellent policy ideas, get by in from both sides of the aisle and then it through the sometimes complicated process and get to it the executive's desk. People saw that success in Arizona and they want me to take that to Washington. They're sick and tired of the do nothing Congress and Senate, especially the Senate. So I look forward to getting there and getting things done.
BARTIROMO: What's the problem, though? I mean when you look at what has just taken place in terms of healthcare, that the Senate -- they didn't even look at the House's version of the healthcare bill. You've got massive divisiveness within the Senate about President Trump's policies, if you didn't, you would have seen more get done. What do you think needs to happen to bring people together?
WARD: I definitely think in 2018 we need to elect people who have that America first agenda in mind. People who want to secure the border, who want to stop illegal immigration, who want to repeal ObamaCare finally, who want to keep the economy growing, who want to fix the tax code and want to make sure that our military is the strongest in the world. Unfortunately, we have a lot of people in Washington, especially in the Senate, who like to talk a lot, but don't like to get a lot of things done and haven't been able to collaborate with each other, House to Senate, within the Republican Party to accomplish the agenda that the American people are crying out for.
BARTIROMO: What does the President need to do in terms of his own leadership to govern in terms of getting some legislative victory? We're just talking with Jason Chaffetz, they only have the Congress a couple of days left when they get back from their summer recess, in order to get big things done like tax reform, is it doable?
WARD: You know, I think it's going to be a big challenge because our government is set up to be incremental and have incremental change, but if they aren't in Washington, D.C. putting their noses to the grindstone and getting things done, it's going to be very difficult. I think the President and his leadership will go a long way if we can get the leader in the House and the leader in the Senate to come together and accomplish those goals that America wants.
BARTIROMO: What have you done in terms of getting the votes, in terms of getting the support from within your own party when we see Jeff Flake out, has a very contemptuous relationship with President Trump, what's your thought in terms of how this plays out?
WARD: Right. You know, I think that Senator Flake is going in the exact wrong direction, attacking the President at every turn. But remember, he's been a never Trumper since the primary. He wasn't for Trump during the primary. He wasn't for the President after he became the nominee. And he certainly hasn't been for the President since he's been in the White House. The polls are showing, I'm up by double digits on Senator Flake. I want to work with the people in Washington, D.C. as well as the people across this country to accomplish the goals that are set before us to make this country great again.
BARTIROMO: I just want -- I just want to point out that Senator Flake has said that if the President keeps up his behavior, "he's going to face a challenger from the Republican party in 2020," and then, of course, we also hear rumors that John Kasich is going to hook up with Governor Hickenlooper and be of camp -- and have their own campaign going into 2020. Do you think the Republican Party will produce a competitor to President Trump in 2020?
WARD: I certainly think that would be a big mistake for the establishment wing of the Republican Party to attempt. I think President Trump and his leadership is what the country wanted. That's why he's in the White House. And I think that he's got lofty goals that we should be accomplish that will put America first.
BARTIROMO: All right, Dr. Kelli Ward, we appreciate you coming on this morning. We hope you'll come back soon. We'll be watching the developments. Thank you.
WARD: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: And by the way, John Kasich said, no OK, that was his quote when asked if in fact, he was readying to run for President in 2020. This morning in one of Sunday's shows, no OK? That was his answer. Our live coverage of the life threatening flooding in Houston is continuing this morning. We're taking a look at the federal disaster response so far with House Homeland Security Chairman and Texas Congressman Mike McCaul. He's next as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. The flood water is still rising in Houston this morning. Over 1,000 water rescues overnight alone. President Trump and his FEMA team monitoring developments. The President tweeted this out this morning, "Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government. Continuing rains and flash floods are being dealt with, thousands rescued." And then this, "Any people are now saying that this is the worst storm or hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground." Joining us right now to talk about Washington's response so far is Texas Congressman Michael McCaul. He's the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee which oversees the federal emergency management agency or FEMA. Sir, good to see you, Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us this morning.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Thank you so much for having me here.
BARTIROMO: Give us an update Sir. What can you tell us in terms of FEMA's response and what needs to be done now?
MCCAUL: Well, first, let me applaud my Governor and the President for immediately even before the hurricane hit declaring major disaster areas, and that allows -- why is that important? Because that allows FEMA to come in and provide the assistance in advance. And that's something after Katrina and Rita we saw didn't work so well. I passed a bill in the Congress to deal with that very issue. And I think this has been one of the best responses to one of the worst hurricanes that I've seen in my lifetime hit the coast of Texas.
BARTIROMO: You know, I know that Texas is such an important part of the U.S. economy so you have to believe that this disaster is going to impact the broad economy as well. Putting obviously the loss of life is most important, but putting that aside for a moment and looking at the broad economic impact, how do you see it?
MCCAUL: Well, loss of life is the highest priority. We have deployed search-and-rescue teams, Coast Guard both air and water, the National Guardsmen have been activated. You know, my father -- grandfather, I'm sorry, survived the 1900 hurricane of Galveston, where 10,000 people died in that hurricane. I think we have handled this obviously far better than that, but from an economic stand point, as you point out, Maria, we are going to see some serious economic damage. All the ports in Houston with the exception of Brownsville have been shut down, including the Houston shipping channel which involves a lot of energy and commerce. And also just when you look at Houston, which got hit so hard last night in many parts of my district, with this flooding, you're going to see a lot of economic damage there. And that's where, you know, I have been talking to FEMA, talking to our state emergency manager to make sure those assets are on the ground to, you know, assist in this recovery.
BARTIROMO: Yes, and you sent a letter to the President urging his authorization of the Governor's request for the disaster declaration. That was pretty fast approval there. Tell us about this major disaster declaration for Texas. It triggers the release of federal funds to help with these individuals and communities with the disaster. Where that does that money come from?
MCCAUL: Well, once it is declared a major disaster, then that's when FEMA, assistance is allowed to come in. That's why that was so important to do early on, and again, I applaud the President for doing that. Just last night, Harris County, that being Houston, was declared a major disaster recovery area, which will allow FEMA assistance to now go in. They've been propositioned, the assets and personnel, but now with this declaration in Houston, after what we saw last night with the flooding, now we will see that money coming in, both in terms of just basically rescue operations, food, water and a lot of public safety assistance. I think first and foremost is saving lives and that's what we're doing.
BARTIROMO: So there was so much discussion about the administration's proposed budget cutting -- making budget cuts to FEMA and yet the President was incredibly quick to respond here in terms of unleashing the need money.
MCCAUL: Well, I think there's no more -- you know, whether it's a manmade terrorist event or a natural disaster, no major event like that should -- I mean, we have a role in the federal government to play here, whether it happened in New Jersey or Louisiana with Katrina or now here in Texas. So we do have a disaster recovery relief fund that right now the economic costs are in the billions. It's foreseeable that those funds may be depleted, and one of the first things we do, we get back into Congress after the August Recess, may be to be looking at an emergency supplemental to help pay for this assistance to the people of the great state of Texas.
BARTIROMO: Yes, you make a great point, Congressman, because you will be getting back to a lot of really fast deadlines in terms of the debt ceiling, in terms of the budget and then in terms of getting policy done. Can you walk us through what that first couple of weeks looks like when Congress gets back in a week?
MCCAUL: Well, I mean, we're looking at bold tax reform. We want to get -- we want to get that piece done. I hope the Senate will go back and take a look at healthcare reform. We have a debt ceiling. We have threats of shutting the government down. I think, you know, we have funding -- we have all major appropriations bills coming out of the House. In September they'll be going over to the Senate. It's my sincere hope the Senate will entertain these Republican appropriations bills including funding for the wall which I know is so important to the President.
BARTIROMO: I think it's such an important point you make, these appropriations bills. Are they going to get all messed up now Congressman because the left is trying to put new amendments about taking Confederate statues down? Is this more obstructionism of the President's agenda?
MCCAUL: You know, we're trying to stay on message. You know, the statues is one issue. I think what happened in Charlottesville needs to be condemned. I will be having a hearing after 9/11 on both worldwide terrorism threats from radical Islam, but also from domestic terrorism of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. But let's not get too off message. We have a lot on our plate to deal with what the American people want us to respond to, whether it be healthcare, taxes, border security, and national security.
BARTIROMO: Yes, and I'm confident that you've got all of your ducks in order on all of that but people recognize there's only a little time left and now this disaster. What are the next couple of days and months look like, Mr. Chairman, in terms of Texas and the impact? I know we really don't know because we're getting more rain in Houston this week.
MCCAUL: Right. And we're expecting one to two more feet of rain in Houston. It's not capable of handling that kind of rain. We're going to see major flooding, major disaster. We don't want to see loss of life. That's our number one priority. The rescue teams are already deployed and out there. But, you know, this is a very historic proportions in the sense that it's a category four hurricane, it hovers over the Coast of Texas, and then -- and then stays there and then drops enormous amounts of rain that the coastal lines -- coastal cities cannot absorb and therefore you're going to have major flooding, major damage, and hopefully not more loss of life.
BARTIROMO: And I know that most of those homes or a big portion of the homes were actually don't even have flood insurance because they're right there on the coast.
MCCAUL: And that is what FEMA is designed to do. FEMA is not the operational arm to come in. That is the state and locals, but FEMA comes in and provides the assistance needed after the event. They're coming in there right now to provide individual assistance, individual assistance of housing and recovery assistance and moving debris. We would like to see people return to their homes and not have to bring in these prefab homes like what we saw with Katrina although that is one of the contingency plans that we are looking at right now.
BARTIROMO: Yes. All right, Congressman, good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks very much for your insights. We appreciate your time.
MCCAUL: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: And thank you for your leadership, Congressman Michael McCaul joining us there. The White House making big headlines on Friday, meanwhile amid the storm, top Advisor Sebastian Gorka is now out. He's fighting back. Our panel takes a closer look at that as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" next. Back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. President Trump's Counterterrorism Advisor Sebastian Gorka now the latest Aide to exit the White House this weekend. Whether he jumped or was pushed out, Gorka making it pretty clear he's moving on because he sees power in the White House tilting toward moderates. Let's bring in our panel right here. Steve Sigmund is the Senior Vice President for Global Strategy Group and a Democratic Strategist. Caitlin Huey-Burns is a National Political Reporter for Real Clear Politics and it is great to see you both. Thanks so much for joining us. So Sebastian Gorka told me this weekend that the "anti-make America great caucus in the White House" has the White House on lockdown. What do you think that means?
STEVE SIGMUND, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure what that means. I love that anybody who's not him or Steve Bannon is somehow against making America great. I mean, I'm sure they're trying to make the argument that you know, that these are -- the moderate wing is somehow in charge, but that's just not the case. I mean, it continues to be the most conservative cabinet in history as related by CPAC. So you know, the only people who are out of it are sort of the Nationalist Gorka, Bannon wing but you continue to have a President behaving exactly the same way.
BARTIROMO: But you know, the truth is there are different factions in the White House isn't that right Caitlyn? I mean, when you look at somebody like a Gary Cohn who supported President Obama, who supported the Clintons or Jared Kushner same thing, Ivanka his daughter same thing. So, is that what's going on here? That the moderates or the Democrats are gaining a foot hold in the White House?
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, there certainly are different factions as you mentioned. I think there was a lot of -- there were a lot of questions about what impact or what influence Gorka actually had in this White House. He was on T.V. a lot and the President liked his defense of him, but as you were saying, he can have that impact on the outside. And to your point, absolutely, I think we're seeing with all these changes in the White House, Donald Trump, the President, remains very much the same.
And I think he has argued and others have argued that no matter who comes in and out, he's going to kind of be the same person. But there are, you know, competing factions in this White House and we have seen this week remarkable criticisms of the President coming from people like Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson on Fox News Today, with some harsh words for the President in terms of America values saying the President speaks for himself. That's kind of what he's competing with here.
SIGMUND: I mean, it really is amazing. I mean, it touches factions. I mean, they're practically at war with each other and often at war with the President himself. I mean, what other president has gone after members of his own cabinet in the way that Donald Trump has and now has people in his own administration going after him. It is a little crazy.
BARTIROMO: Will they be able to get anything done in the midst of all of this? I mean, the President has his own way of doing things obviously and so far up until just a couple of weeks ago, I feel like everyone understood who he was and sort of accepted it. But now you're really getting pushback from people saying look, you need to change this, get off Twitter; right?
SIGMUND: Yes. I mean, look, the real problem -- people have been telling him to get off Twitter for two years. And I mean, he was successful in the end of the campaign last year when he was off Twitter but the real problem he has now is he's really picking fights with Republicans, right? Before - -
BARTIROMO: But they are picking fights with him too, right?
SIGMUND: I mean, when he's going after you know, early morning tweets going after Ryan and McConnell for sort of nothing right after their unity statement, right? So the result of that so far is that he has been able not to accomplish his agenda, right, whether it's healthcare or tax reform or getting the debt ceiling increased or anything else. You're looking at an agenda that's completely stalled.
BARTIROMO: That's interesting because it does impact things, right? It has. I mean, the relationship that he's had with McCain, you don't want to draw too many conclusions to why McCain came back from Arizona and voted no on the healthcare bill, but maybe there was something personal going on there.
BURNS: Well, interestingly, the attacks on Jeff Flake. I mean, Jeff Flake has voted with President Trump's agenda 93 percent of the time according to some estimates. He voted for the healthcare bill in the Senate. What's interesting here about, just moving this back to Gorka, I mean, it does show to some extent the influence of John Kelly which lots of people have been questioning influence. And when it comes to Gary Cohn, the important thing to note about that criticism is that Gary Cohn is tasked with kind of being the point person on tax reform. And so he's going to be dealing with these Republicans many of whom on this issue. Many of whom have been critical of the President's handling of Charlottesville and other events. So I'm wondering if that's a way for him to kind of re-establish himself with those Republicans in order to get everybody on the same page for policy.
BARTIROMO: All right. We will talk about that. And I would also like to get your take on what Jeff Flake said and that is, if the president keeps up this behavior, there's going to be a real challenger to him in 2020. So think about that. I want to get your take on that. We got more with our panel in just a moment including the fallout from President Trump's pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We are looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now. Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Back with our panel -- back with our panel right now. Steve Sigmund and Caitlin Huey-Burns, and of course the other big story we want to get to this pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Obviously, he's been a big supporter of the president. The President pardons him in the middle of all of this storm above everything else. Your thoughts, Caitlin.
BURNS: Well, this comes at a remarkable time of course in a news dump on a Friday during a hurricane. But I had been talking to Republicans in advance of this pardon because if the President had talked about it in Arizona, and the feedback I was getting was that this would drive a further wedge within the Republican Party at a delicate time, that it would animate Democrats who think that all their thoughts on Arpaio think that will drive voters to their side. And it -- there are questions among Republicans who have already been critical of this President about what this means in terms of a law and order person -- candidate who became President. Questions about the legal aspects of this I think you are going to hear a lot from Republicans, but you're also going to hear from Republicans who think this is a good idea, who think that Arpaio was given a raw deal.
BURNS: So the divisions are stark on this issue, but they are similar to what we've seen in the past.
BARTIROMO: So much division and yet here we go right off the bat, Paul Ryan comes out and says I disagree with the President. Once again, divisiveness within the Republican Party.
SIGMUND: Yes. I mean, look, again, the President himself is essentially driving a wedge in his own party to make sure that he can't get his agenda done. I is just a -- I mean, he didn't need to do this. There was no political need for him to pardon this guy. He pardoned him because Joe Arpaio was nice to Donald Trump, right? Which is essentially how he makes his policy decisions.
BARTIROMO: Well, we'll see about that. I mean, he also thought that he was wronged.
SIGMUND: Potentially but you know, he also was somebody who was a supporter of his. When you support him, he does things for you whatever the law and order around it was. But more importantly, what it means here is another wedge between he and Paul Ryan, or John McCain, or critical votes in the Congress that Trump needs any of his agenda done. So again, you're now driving a wedge that makes sure he can't get done what he said he would get done easily.
BARTIROMO: The President's supporters blamed Paul Ryan. The President supporters will say look, there's a huge portion of the Republican Party that does not want the President to succeed.
SIGMUND: And the President supporters are 33 percent of the voting populist. That's the problem. And that's why his approval rating has stayed around there.
BURNS: But when you look at what the President might be trying to do here is you know, certainly wants to rev up his base ahead of these big legislative fights coming in September. We saw that apparent in the rally in Phoenix -- at the rally in Phoenix, the pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio is certainly -- or former Sheriff Arpaio is certainly a way to, you know, rev up the base at a critical time for him. But it also -- I mean, to your point earlier about driving this wedge within the Republican Party, it's not going to get any more Republican on his side on this issue. Particularly since, you know, Presidents make controversial pardons a lot. This is not the first President to make a controversial pardon. There's a question, though, about the timing because he wasn't even sentenced yet. And traditionally you wait about five years after the sentencing and going through DOJ processing.
BARTIROMO: All right, quick break. We want to give you an update out of Houston. Back in a minute.
BARTIROMO: Continuing live coverage out of Houston coming up on Fox News. But let's get one last question with our panel here. What's the most of important the next couple of weeks, Congress gets back a week from Tuesday?
SIGMUND: Yes. It will be interesting to see how Republicans react to what they heard out in their districts, right? Whether they're hearing, "you better stick with this President or else" or they're actually able to go out and say, this is what we think really should happen.
BARTIROMO: In terms of legislation, in terms of tax reform. Caitlin.
BURNS: Absolutely. I agree. And then the shorter term, looking at the President's response to the aftermath of this hurricane, these are trying times for any kind of President. Natural disasters present a really big challenges for Presidents. I think a lot of eyes are watching how he's handled this first one of his Presidency.
BARTIROMO: Yes, for sure. Great to see you both. Thanks very much. Caitlin Huey-Burns, Steve Sigmund, well see you soon. That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures." Have a great Sunday everybody. I'm Maria Bartiromo, I'll see you next week. Join "Mornings With Maria" on the Fox Business Network 6:00 to 9 a.m. Eastern all week. "Media Buzz" with Howie Kurtz is up next.
Content and Programming Copyright 2017 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.