This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 22, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are gathered today to hear directly from the American victims of illegal immigration. They are not separated for a day or two days. These are permanently separated. These are the families the media ignores.
As a result of sanctuary city policies in fiscal 2017, more than 8,000 criminal aliens were released back into our civilian population. We don't want people in our country that that don't go through a process. We want people in our country based on merit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Trump today talking about immigration, immigration reform, protecting cities, protecting the country with the border security, tweeting out, however, raising some high brows, "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solve this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the red wave," referring to the election in the fall.
Let's bring in our panel: Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner; Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, contributor for Real Clear Politics. Mort, welcome back.
MORT KONDRACKE, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Hi.
BAIER: Start with you. What about this immigration stance and whether Congress is moving or not moving or what the president is doing in this process.
KONDRACKE: Look, from the get go Trump has been demonizing Mexicans as rapists and murderer. He ran on xenophobia, he won on xenophobe. He could have had a deal with Chuck Schumer last year. He would have gotten his wall. The DACA kids would have been legalized. He probably now should add we won't separate families any more but we will put ankle bracelets on people that we want to keep from melting into the population. He blew up the last deal by insisting that legal immigration be cut in half, even though we need immigrants to pay for Social Security and do jobs that Americans won't do. And now he is blowing up whatever chance there was for a House deal, which Paul Ryan should have tried to make a bipartisan bill. But now Trump says you are wasting your time. He said at one point I like both the Goodlatte bill and the compromise bill. Now he says I want no bill. So I think he just --
BAIER: Fred, what about this and how it plays for the midterm and how perhaps the president thinks it plays?
FRED BARNES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, he doesn't think it's playing very well. Obviously, you know those tweets where he said we're going to have to go back to the midterm election, or go forward to it, and then we can have a red wave and then we can do something. He is basically right about that. He recognizes he is in a fix. Is he not going to get anything passed. The Democrats don't want to pass anything. The Republicans don't have the votes. And he has no great influence on this issue in Congress.
So I think it's going to get worse for Trump. We're going to start seeing the thing Republicans hate the most, and that's catch and release, because some of these children will be getting released after 20 days, and they can't be allowed to wander around out there, so you have to let the parents out and tell them they can come back for a hearing. Of course, they never come back.
BAIER: Yes, Byron.
BRYON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: This is more proof of Republican dysfunction on this issue. They have had trouble with this issue for a very long time. These bills contain the president's number one campaign promise, his number one priority on this which is the construction of a border wall. It takes 215 votes to pass this bill right now. There are 235 Republicans in the House. Does anybody believe there are going to be more Republicans in the house after November. Regardless what the president says about a red wave, they have a chance to pass a bill that would fund the president's top priority, that would fix the DACA problem and would address today's current problem of family separations. And yet they are not able to get this together.
BAIER: Do you take a half a loaf in other words? Take a listen to the reaction to the tweet from lawmakers up on the Hill:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president is expressing his frustration that Democrats don't want to solve the problem while we do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't do anything legislatively until we can reconnect these children. That has to be our highest priority right now.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, R-TEXAS: I think the president did the right thing. I appreciated his tweet today more than you can imagine.
REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OHIO: The president is right. Chuck Schumer said this earlier in the week. They don't want to do anything. But at least the House should show the American people we are doing what we said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, see, that's the problem. Even if everyone knows you can't pass something through the Senate because it as president keeps on pointing out you need democrat votes there, moderate house Republicans were desperate for a chance to just vote on something just because they are in competitive districts. They want to show their voters they tried to solve the Dreamer problem. They tried to end family separations. But the president pulled out the rug from out from under them and said we shouldn't even bother. Don't waste your time.
Just a couple days ago he said I'm with you 1,000 percent. I'm behind these bills. So a lot of confusion not just on the policy, not just what's going to happen to these kids on the border, but also what's going to happen on Capitol Hill. This is an issue that up until now has been a pretty good one for him. It energizes his base. It goes back to some really core issues that he has used all along. It helped him win the White House. But now I think he has muddied the water so much it's hard to know what he wants.
BAIER: As you look, Mort, let me just put up the generic Congressional ballot as it stands now, Democrat 46.3, Republicans 40.2. That's the average of the recent polls. It has closed down in recent days. It's tough to see how this all plays, isn't it, by the time you get to the fall?
KONDRACKE: Yes. I have no idea how these elections are going to turn out. I think they are going to be all about Trump and his character and so on.
But look, if he really wanted a bill, he could put the Democrats to a test. Put a decent bill on the table, stick to it. Tell Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan I want this bill. And let the Democrats blow it up and prove him right. My guess is that if it was a decent enough bill, he could get a lot more than even the wall. He could probably get an end to the visa lottery and he could get a gradual change from family reunification to talent as the basis. I think he is basically a xenophobe. He rode it to the White House. Now he has got all these European pals of his who are xenophobes and I think he is going to ride this wave forever.
BAIER: All right, second half of the beltway boys. Wrap it up here.
BARNES: Look, this is an issue that Democrats have finally found a part of the issue that helps them, and that's this whole issue of separation of children from their families. It's about the only one that's been around that Democrats could really use. Trump is going to use not this particular part of the issue, but the whole immigration issue this fall in the midterm, and I think it will help him.
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