For the Record with Greta, Transcript 3/17/2017

Guests:
Margaret Talev, Nicholas Burns, Steve Clemons, Clarence Page, Susan Ferrechio, Kevin Cirilli, Howard Dean, Barry McCaffrey
Transcript:

Show: FOR THE RECORD

Date: March 17, 2017

Guest: Margaret Talev, Nicholas Burns, Steve Clemons, Clarence Page, Susan Ferrechio, Kevin Cirilli, Howard Dean, Barry McCaffrey

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST:  We`ll be back on Monday with more

“MTP Daily.” I`ll see you Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “For the Record with

Greta” starts right now, Greta, big first win for Whiskey. 

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, MSNBC:  Indeed, Wisconsin got a game tomorrow and of

course I`ll be watching “Meet the Press” on Sunday.  So you are going to be

working on Sunday.  Anyway, it was a wild day, another wild day actually

here in Washington.  He is most certainly not backing down.  President

Trump`s first comments about the wiretapping since the senate and house

intelligence committee announced no indication that Trump tower was

surveilled.  Here he is with the Press Conference with German Chancellor

Angela Merkel today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR:  Mr. President, the government officials

in London today rejected White House claims that the alleged wiretapping on

you, on the Trump tower, on Trump organization or on members of your

campaign was – that British intelligence was either responsible for it or

involved in it.  After these claims are rejected what is your take on that? 

Are there other suspects or you think it was a mistake to blame British

intelligence for this and, by the way, my second question, are there from

time to time tweets that you regret –

 

DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Very seldom. 

 

MERKEL:  Very seldom.  So you never would have wished –

 

TRUMP:  Probably would not be here right now.  We have a tremendous group

of people that listen and I can get around the media, when the media

doesn`t tell the truth so I like that.  As far as wiretapping I guess by

this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps. 

 

(LAUGHTER) 

 

And just to finish your question, we said nothing.  All we did was quote a

certain very talented legal mind.  Who is the one responsible for saying it

on television?  I didn`t make an opinion on it.  That was made by a very

talented lawyer on Fox so you should not be talking to me, you should be

talking to Fox. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Fox News now saying it has no evidence of any kind that

former President Obama wiretapped President Trump.  And not disavowing the

statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer yesterday. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  On Fox News on March 14th Judge

Napolitano said three intelligence forces informed Fox News that President

Obama went outside the chain, he didn`t use the NSA or FBI or department of

justice.  He used GCHQ.  What is that?  The initials for the British

intelligence spying agency, simply by having two people saying president

needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump`s

conversations, he is able to get it and there are no American fingerprints

on this. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, the British intelligence agency GCHQ steaming mad,

firing back recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew

Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct wiretapping against the then

President-Elect are nonsense.  They are utterly ridiculous and should be

ignored.  The British Prime Minister office said the White House has

promised those claims will not be repeated but there is more.  When a

reporter asked Sean Spicer today, if he apologized to the Brits, he said

no.  The president made it clear he is not apologizing for anything, in

fact, he was joking about it today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

TRUMP:  As far as wiretapping, I guess by, you know, this past

administration at least we have something in common perhaps. 

 

(LAUGHTER) 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, the German chancellor didn`t seem to smile but that is

a reference to this incident in 2013. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is now mad too.  Angela Merkel dialing President Obama

to ask if the NSA was tapping her cell phone and if so, Germany says that

would be a breach of trust and unacceptable. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And here`s how the president`s joke as he stood beside the

German chancellor is being covered in Germany, the English translation,

Trump`s evil NSA joke.  With me Nicholas Burns, former ambassador NATO and

he also served as under Secretary of State, Steve Clemons, Washington

editor at large for “the Atlantic” and Margaret Talev senior White House

correspondent for Bloomberg news, Margaret first to you.  You wrote the

Brits – the Mexican government is not happy with us and the German

government may not be happy with us, things the president said about Angela

Merkel in the past and now the Brits how are they? 

 

MARGARET TALEV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR BLOOMBERG:  The British

government I think will get over it, but the timing of yesterday`s release

by the British categorically denying that they did President Obama`s spying

for him is note worthy because it not after a Fox report, it came after

Sean Spicer`s appearance at the podium and the British were very frustrated

at the idea that the White House would use that official platform to give

air to an unsubstantiated accusation. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  That is fake news. 

 

TALEV:  It would be not the kind of news that bodes well for a special

relationship and wanted to nip it in the bud and those lines of

communication back and forth between both the ambassador and national

security for Britain were very swift to the White House. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ambassador, I know that we have sort of teasing with it but

it really is serious, all this going on.  We need to have an open line and

good relationship with all our allies and Britain being mad, you know, that

certainly is not, you know, is not very – I would not say it`s a very

effective piece of diplomacy. 

 

NICHOLAS BURNS, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL:  Greta, I think it`s a low point of

the modern presidency.  I started my career in government in 1980 as an

intern for the Carter administration.  None of our presidents have ever

acted like this, such reprehensible charges and they`ve now been denied by

the entire U.S. Government, by the Justice Department, by the FBI, by the

Republican leadership in the senate and yet President Trump continues to

put out this vile charge against President Obama and speak to the

credibility issue.  When the president of the United States speaks with a

German chancellor beside her the entire world is listening.  If they can`t

believe him on this, will they not believe him when we`re in a crisis on

foreign defense policy around the world?  It`s wrong.  It`s wrong to

President Obama.  It`s a low point in our democracy and the White House has

misplayed this and the president`s credibility is shot if he continues to

say things that are absolutely untrue. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Steven, when you look at the polls it doesn`t seem like the

American people believe that President Obama wiretapped then candidate

Trump.  The house intelligence committee bipartisan says they`ve seen no

evidence.  There is no evidence going to the senate intelligence committee

bipartisan Republican and Democrat.  Senator Lindsey Graham has said he has

seen no evidence.  I don`t think a lot of people think in the United States

but what do you think is the global impact of this? 

 

STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC:  I think the global impact is one where, you

know, I agree with much of what Nick Burns just said but the global impact

is less than many people think.  I think these things blow over.  I think

Donald Trump is now seen as a guy who rattles and shakes up our allies,

plants just a little bit of doubt, knocks them around a little bit and

makes them wonder what their footing with the United States is and the next

time he gets a chance to hug them he does and I think in that environment

everybody hoping for a more stable America and a sane president of the

United States, kind of clicks back into gear.  It`s just becoming a very

clear style of Donald Trump to inject doubt, to have fun, to shake things

up and while these are unsubstantiated claims on wiretapping I think this

notion about wiretapping victims of the world uniting is something where we

have to go back and not be so indignant about the moral indignity of

wiretapping, because the United States did wiretap and did listen in on

foreign leaders, did engage in behavior which our intelligence agencies

denied we were doing, so in that world Donald Trump is able to reshape

gravity at least for the people who support him in this, if not for many

members of congress who wonder what in the world is he doing. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But if he is lying, Steve, if he is false or mistaken or any

of those things, is that he says that he accuses twitter to get around

media when media not telling the truth.  He is not being straight with us. 

 

CLEMONS:  Yep, I think it`s a real problem and tweeted out the implications

of this is you know you can imagine Donald Trump saying oops, dropped the

nuclear bomb, meant to drop a conventional one.  Important for the

president of the United States to say what he means and mean what he says

when he just offloaded this to a Fox News issue, that doesn`t capture the

fact that he sent his people out like Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway,

Reince Priebus and others to basically make the point that they`re sticking

by the story, that we talked about TV`s and microwave, other forms of

intelligence and we were said, oh, interesting information will be coming

down the pike.  So I get that but we don`t have a president who plays by

those rules and, you know, I think that it`s a big problem, but it`s going

to continue unless the U.S. Congress finds a way to sensor the president of

the United States for not telling the truth then all we`re doing is playing

a game of holding our breath and moral indignity that has no impact at all

on his behavior. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Margaret, why – go ahead, ambassador. 

 

BURNS:  I very much disagree.  The credibility of the United States is at

stake here.  This will have a big global impact.  You can be sure that our

adversary, the Iranian, North Koreans, Russians and Chinese, they`re

looking at a president that is diminishing before their eyes, because he is

not telling the truth in public.  This is a very serious foreign policy

problem having to do with the credibility of our leader.  You saw

chancellor Merkel.  She did not smile.  She didn`t go along with the joke

because she is a dignified person and how sad is it and I say this as

someone who worked for Republicans and Democrats and is not particularly

partisan that the leader of the free world most people feel right now is

not the American president, it`s Angela Merkel, because our president

refuses to play that role.  Today he didn`t support the European Union.  He

didn`t say a negative word about Vladimir Putin.  He didn`t reaffirm that

we keep the American sanctions on to help Angela Merkel contain Putin on

the Ukraine issue.  He is not leading.  And it`s a problem for all

Americans to face. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And Margaret, why was Angela Merkel here?  I realize she was

supposed to be here earlier.  Seems like a short trip.  I think the

president got out to Mar-a-Lago and took the Japanese Prime Minister but

she didn`t go with him to Mar-a-Lago. 

 

TALEV:  Yeah, this is certainly a different kind of visit and a lot of that

has to do with her own personal calculus, standing for re-election and

Trump has been polling at 12 percent in Germany as of earlier this week

when we did our reporting on this.  You know, but Ambassador Burns raised

some really interesting points.  Impossible not to contrast in your own

mind the way Barack Obama would have conducted that news conference and the

way President Trump does but this is President Trump`s presidency.  This is

his opening appearance with Angela Merkel and he did want to send very

clear messages on how he views trade and some of these other issues. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  He did say that he wasn`t isolation – he was not an

isolationist but he believed America should be treated fairly and America

first essentially. 

 

TALEV:  That is right.  I was maybe 10 or 15 feet away from them.  It`s

interesting when you talk about that she didn`t go along and laugh with it,

there was certainly a flicker of recognition in her eye and you could feel

it in the room that she understood exactly what he was doing which is going

to how frustrated and embarrassing the situation it was between the Obama

administration and Merkel at the time that Ed Snowden and WikiLeaks and all

this information was revealed but there is an obvious difference which is

that she was actually spied on by the Obama administration and there`s no

evidence at this point. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Maybe you know this, ambassador, wasn`t it the former

president of Brazil who also got spied on by the U.S. and so she canceled

the state dinner. 

 

BURNS:  That is not even the issue here.  That is –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  No, no, I`m just serving as an anecdote on this whole thing,

in the spying business. 

 

BURNS:  The issue here is that we have one president, President Trump,

accusing President Obama of a crime.  That he didn`t commit.  And won`t be

honest enough when his entire government and the Republican leadership in

congress tell him he is wrong to admit he is wrong.  This is a crisis of

credibility for this particular president.  It`s going to have a big impact

overseas on how people see us.  They won`t treat us as seriously in the

future. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And Steve? 

 

BURNS:  Go ahead. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I was going to ask you what you thought, Steve, on Monday

when director Jim Comey testifies, the director of the FBI testifies Monday

on Capitol Hill and we assume he`ll say there is no evidence that President

Obama wiretapped then candidate Trump.  What happens then? 

 

CLEMONS:  Well, I think you hear – you`ll hear President Trump continuing

what he is saying as he was supposed to be credible on Fox News and that is

where the story is.  There`s so much that Nick Burns said that I agree with

that I want to agree with, but I just think what`s happening is there are

two different worlds co-existing.  One in which gravity works in which the

president of the United States supposed to be the moral and political

leader in the world and to set – and there`s another thing where he is

elevating economic issues as national security issues and letting

traditional national security issues fall by the wayside.  And I think that

those of us that are trying to understand this president where he is going

is not the question of right or wrong it`s the question of what are the

patterns that we`ll see and, you know, Germany is a country that produces a

lot, that saves a lot and consumes a little and that creates distortions in

the world and Donald Trump is raising that and putting that in the

spotlight.  That`s increasingly becoming the national security parameter

that he cares about and that he is elevating while he is shaking up NATO,

while he is threatening intelligence communities, which he sees as sort of

having been, you know, what Donald Trump is showing is he took on big

media, he is taking on the world`s intelligence agencies, he is taking on

the Democrats, et cetera, and those – and he is showing he is sort of king

of the jungle in the way he is presided and dominated all of these and he

is not about to walk it back and at some point unless you imagine a

collision where these other forces can win, this is going to be a pattern

we continue to see over and over and over again. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I hope you`ll come back.  There will be a lot to talk about

in the next four or eight years.  Thank you all, more on President Trump

joking about his wiretapping accusation, plus Monday is the big day.  FBI

Director Jim Comey will break his silence but then what?  Will things

change?  Also, the GOP health care bill now dead on arrival, something big

happened today and coincidentally the same time that President Trump was

speaking with German chancellor Merkel.  I`ll tell you what it was.  Also

tonight, very stern warning to North Korea, Secretary of State Rex

Tillerson makes an eye-opening statement involving nuclear weapons and

North Korea. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

TRUMP:  We said nothing.  All we did was quote a certain very talented

legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television.  I

didn`t make an opinion on it.  That was a statement made by a very talented

lawyer on Fox and so you shouldn`t be talking to me.  You should be talking

to Fox. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump not backing down from his claim that

President Obama wiretapped him, but the president might want to consider

this, a new FNC poll shows 76 percent want him to produce documents

supporting his allegations so far he has not done that.  And also this,

another 63 percent want probes into potential ties between the Trump

campaign and Russia and then on this Monday, we`re going to be seen for the

first time at a public hearing and that very issue with the testimony from

the head of the FBI and then tomorrow morning, of course, marks two weeks

since the president first tweeted that President Obama wiretapped him and

lit this controversy on fire.  So here`s a look back at what a long and,

yes, strange two weeks it`s been. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump`s explosive allegation on twitter accusing

former President Obama tapping his phones at Trump tower. 

 

He said it`s a new low by President Obama. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was no such wiretap activity.  I can deny it. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The president wants congress to look into this. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have no insight into what exactly he is referring to. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`ve seen no evidence of the allegations. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you believe that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump

tower? 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There`s no evidence of that. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Sean Spicer attempted to clarify President Trump`s tweet on

wiretapping. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The president was very clear in his tweet that it was,

you know, wiretapping. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The FBI and department of justice last week for any

evidence of a warrant and hadn`t heard a thing. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will your justice department comply with the

Intelligence community –

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Either retract or provide the information. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don`t think there was an actual tap of Trump tower. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`ve seen no evidence. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you seen anything to suggest there are wiretaps? 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You can surveil someone through their phones, through

their – certainly through their television sets and microwaves that turn

into cameras. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m not inspector gadget. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Director Comey, have you seen any evidence that

President Obama wiretapped Trump tower? 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is unusual for a sitting president to accuse a

former president.  I have zero evidence that happened. 

 

TRUMP:  I think you`re going to find some very interesting items coming to

the forefront over the next two weeks. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The joint letter that was signed by the co-chairs of

the senate intelligence committee –

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They say very definitively we see no indication that

Trump tower the subject of surveillance. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Does the president accept those findings?  Will he

concede that it wasn`t true and in fact will he apologize to President

Obama for it? 

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  First of all he stands by it.  Where was the question -

-

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So you think –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I believe he will. 

 

TRUMP:  Wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something

in common perhaps. 

 

(LAUGHTER) 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Clarence Page is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist with The

Chicago Tribune, Susan Ferrechio Chief Congressional Correspondent for the

Washington Examiner and Kevin Cirilli is politics reporter for Bloomberg

News, welcome to all of you.  Clarence, one thing is clear, he is shaking

up Washington, but I think you go outside the beltway and saw the crowds

that he drew in Tennessee the other night.  The American people, even

though they want more information, his voters are still passionately behind

him. 

 

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  I bet his ratings are terrific.  This is

great television for people outside the beltway who don`t follow all the

fine print in the news and issues, they`re seeing – those who voted for

Trump, they`re seeing the Trump that they voted for, the guy –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I don`t think they care.  I think they`re so firmly behind

the president they think the rest of us are nuts for keep asking the same

question. 

 

PAGE:  Except FNC poll you showed, what, 80 percent want to hear more about

what is in the documents and want to know more about his relationship with

the Russians.  I think that crosses party lines and we`ll hear more about

that. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Susan, what are they saying behind – we get the public

statements but you know everybody on Capitol Hill.  What are they saying on

the hill? 

 

SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  They say this is Trump being

Trump and we can`t control what he does on twitter.  Happy he is pushing

through the GOP agenda.  I think if – I know from talking to the majority

leader in the senate he told me that he has spoken personally to Trump and

asked him to – told him he didn`t like the tweets and thought it was

distracting from their goals but I think they have come to accept he does

it and there`s a certain kind of Teflon quality to him that of course was

part of his campaign they never seemed to have any problems with the things

he said, there were no repercussions in the polls and I think that poll you

just showed was really interesting and people want to hear more, but I

don`t know if that necessarily means this is bad news for Trump that they

look upon him disapprovingly, because of all this and also I`ll point out

the connection of Russians and the Trump campaign, we still haven`t seen

any evidence of that and I think that is another thing to point out here

the press keeps asking about it yet there isn`t any evidence and people are

making `s on Capitol Hill about it still. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Kevin, we might find out more on that from Director Comey on

Monday, whether – he is not going to sell us the inside of the

investigation, but at least give us a hint or a tip whether there might be

something going on in terms of an investigation of the Trump campaign and

Russia investigation.  That doesn`t mean anything did anything wrong, but

an investigation.  But he is also going to ask the question did President

Obama wiretap candidate Trump? 

 

KEVIN CIRILLI, BLOOMBERG NEWS:  Let`s not forget this is a Republican-

controlled congress so the fact that Republican committee leaders are

setting the agenda on this I think it only adds to the fact that instead of

talking about health care policy instead of talking about tax policy or

financial regulatory reform, they`re still facing questions on this.  That

is a tough call – that is a tough spot for the White House to be in. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But as you said Republicans are leading this.  President

Trump did say he wanted an investigation. 

 

CIRILLI:  Absolutely.  And so I think the pressure coming from whether or

not Republicans are going to be able to conduct such a fair investigation

remains to be seen, but either way the American people do want answers on

this for different reasons, I`ll be it, but this will definitely continue I

think in the weeks ahead. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Clarence, I think it`s absolutely a plan and Susan mentioned

tweeting.  He`ll continue to tweet, because he very seldom has regrets.  He

said very seldom and does it to get around the media when the media is not

truthful.  He got around the media with that tweet where he accuses

President Obama of wiretapping him but this is Donald Trump, the president. 

 

PAGE:  He told us his definition of fake news, news he doesn`t like, you

know, I mean and this is pretty plainly obvious that he wants to go around

the media like every president does in order to talk directly to the people

and finds that twitter is his way to do it but it comes across very

cryptically which we are arguing about for the quotations marks around

wiretapping, this sort of thing. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  You know Susan, many people find the tweeting and comments

like so-called judge, some of those are unseemly but, you know, setting

aside the words, is there damage? 

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, to whom, the judge or to Trump? 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Not – I think the judge will survive.  Everybody backed up

the judge with that. 

 

FERRECHIO:  That is a great question.  I wonder who is damaged when he

tweets like that.  There`s some people when he tweeted about Obama

wiretapping him now believes that Obama did that and doesn`t matter if no -

-

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  No one who liked President Obama before suddenly said

anything.  I don`t like President Obama – I can`t believe I think we were

so – people are so divided I don`t think you`ll move one person. 

 

FERRECHIO:  That is probably true so the question is whether all this

tweeting will lower his credibility or lower his, you know, we`ll start so

tee tweets and ignore them. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  We still haven`t. 

 

FERRECHIO:  No, that is true.  That was the case during the campaign as

well.  But, you know, he is early in his presidency.  When he tweets about

foreign policy today, he put out a tweet about North Korea while Secretary

of State was over in Korea and so, you know –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Which actually that is the one where I think, Kevin, he is

so uncertain – I think that North Korea, it may not be such a bad thing if

they`re unsure about President Trump, because we`ve tried everything else

with North Korea. 

 

CIRILLI:  He is advocated that he is argued that his unpredictability is an

asset.  Critics would pounce on it.  I would just say that, while we in the

media haven`t adjusted to his tweets, the markets have. 

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right.  We`ll take a quick break and we have breaking

news from Iowa, GOP Senator Joni Ernst is now hosting a town hall in Des

Moines and seen tensions rise at town halls across the country since

President Trump was sworn in.  This one coming just days before a critical

vote next week which is on the GOP health care bill, we are monitoring this

town hall and we will bring you any developments as they come in. 

 

And there`s a news alert.  It Republican vote on health care took place

today, the bill would not pass.  Why?  I`ll tell you about some big news

that happened today just under the radar and we are awaiting the arrival of

Air Force One in Palm Beach, Florida.  President Trump expected to land in

just a short time. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We met with 12, pretty much

no`s in Congress. You saw that a little while ago and they went from all

no`s to all yeses and we have a lot of yeses coming in. It`s all coming

together. We`re going to have great health care. It`s going to be passed, I

believe. I think substantially and pretty quickly.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST:  President Trump sounding

confident the Republican health care bill will pass next Thursday when it

hits the house floor for the vote but red alert, just 18 minutes before the

president expressed confidence about Republican health care bill,

Republican Senator Dean Heller telling reporters that he will vote against

the bill. And this is big. He joins Republican senators Rand Paul and Susan

Collins, both Republicans, already on record as no votes.

 

There are, of course, 52 Republicans in the senate. So if the bill does

pass the House, those three GOP no votes in the senate would kill it. But

will the bill even get there from the House? Will the House pass it on

Thursday? The House Freedom Caucus is still opposed to the bill and if all

members of the Freedom Caucus vote no, the bill is dead in the House.

 

That means it won`t even make it over to the Senate for a vote there. The

House vote on Thursday coinciding with the seventh anniversary of Obamacare

becoming law. With me, former Vermont governor and former chair of the

Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Good evening, sir.

 

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT:  Hi, how are you?

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Good. So, if you do all that math and you take in all the

that I`ve said about the House and the Senate and all the no`s that we`re

hearing about, do you think this is going to pass the House, and if so, do

you think it`s going to pass the Senate?

 

DEAN:  I don`t think it`s going to pass the Senate because I don`t think it

will get any Democratic votes. There are senators like Joe Manchin and

Heidi Heitkamp who live in very conservative states. The truth is this is

terrible for Trump voters. This bill is terrible for Trump voters. They`re

going to take the biggest hit and they`re not going to like this bill at

all.

 

So, there`s no reason that a Democrat from West Virginia or North Dakota or

a place like that would vote for this bill. They may have a problem with

confirming Gorsuch. There`ll be pressure on them to do that but they won`t

be pressured to do this back home. So, I don`t think that – and it`s a

terrible bill. I mean it`s going to be terrible for the Republicans if it

passes. In the house, it`s hard to say, you know why? Because the speaker -

-

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why do you say – why do you say it`s terrible for the

Republicans, because a number of them certainly embraced him. Speaker Ryan

thinks, you know, he certainly embraced it, maybe the architect of it.

President Trump has embraced it. Maybe it won`t be happy with it later but

at least right now you know he`s bringing up Republicans to twist arms to

get the votes.

 

DEAN:  It kicks 24 million off health insurance according to the CBO which

is the only reliable source. These Republicans have no reliable sources.

And it kicks 15 million of those people off – off Medicaid which is fairly

– it happens fairly quickly.

 

So, this is a disaster – I wouldn`t want to go to an election having the

people who voted me four years ago or two years ago having the reward be

that I lose my health insurance and, you know, the public now – nobody

loves Obamacare but they like Obamacare much better than they like what the

Republicans are trying to do. Trumpcare is a disaster.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, we just got a statement from leader Nancy Pelosi and

she`s talking about the bill and she said, “Republicans are terrified the

American people will see the reality of their disastrous Trumpcare bill. If

the GOP are afraid of the public having the facts about the bill, they

shouldn`t be voting on it.

 

As I wrote to Speaker Ryan, the American people members have a right to see

an updated CBO score and the consequences of the final legislation before

any vote by the House. When Democrats amended, the Senate passed the

Affordable Care Act at rules. We insured the American people had an updated

CBO score for the final legislation before the House voted.

 

House Republicans contempt for transparency matches their contempt for the

working families who would be devastated by Trumpcare where Republicans are

deluding themselves if they think they can hide from the millions of

Americans whose lives will be destroyed by the bill.” She wants an updated

CBO score and apparently the, well, the Republican Whip, Steve Scalise is

refusing to commit to that.

 

DEAN:  Well, look, I mean, I have a huge amount of respect for Nancy Pelosi

and I think she was a great speaker but that`s all – this is all inside

baseball. The American people aren`t going to care if there is a CBO score

or not. What matters about the CBO score is people who know what they`re

talking about know that the CBO score is the really accurate way to judge

this. What really is going to kill the Republicans on this bill is if it

passes, it does some really bad things.

 

One of the worst things it does, despite the fact that it`s taking away 24

million people`s health insurance over a 10-year period and 15 million

quite soon, one of the worst things it does is it saves $323 billion which

Trump is then going to turn over to tax cuts for the people who are in the

top 1 percent of income. Now, that is insane.

 

Here are all these people who like Trump because he wasn`t like all the

Republicans and Trump embraces the Republican pro-billionaire agenda when

he gets to the White House and says screw all the people that voted for me.

These are all people – the people who are going to get hit the hardest are

in places like West Virginia and Arkansas and Kentucky where huge numbers

voted for Trump because they wanted change. This isn`t change. This is

worst than any Republican president in history.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I suspect that President Trump were listening tonight and he

would thank you for your concern about how it`s going to hurt him, but I

think he probably thinks that this is the best bill he`s going to get, that

this is the deal and, you know, he can`t get a perfect – can`t get a

perfect bill but this is the best the country is going to get and it`s

going to improve Obamacare in his mind.

 

DEAN:  Well, the problem with Trumpcare is it`s real. You know, people

elected him because of his promises, none of which he`s kept as far as I

can see, except for harassing immigrants. So, people elected him for that

reason. He`s going to get the Ronald Reagan question. How are you better

off than you were four years ago, and the answer is, absolutely not if you

don`t have health insurance. And there are a lot of people – this is not a

small number of people that are going to lose their health insurance.

 

Everybody in America is going to know somebody who lost their health

insurance as a result of a Trumpcare. That`s not a good place to be and the

House members know it. And the Senate knows it. Tom Cotton who is one of

the most conservative people in the Senate has talked about this very

problem because Arkansas is going to get hit harder than most other states.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Indeed he had a very aggressive town hall when he was

answering questions from his constituents. Governor, thank you for joining

us.

 

DEAN:  Thanks for having me on.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ahead, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just said something

North Korea might want to listen to. That story is ahead. And we are

waiting for President Trump`s arrival in Florida – that`s expected in just

a few moments.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Back now and the fight over the GOP health care bill. It

looks like it`s on life support with a third Republican senator coming on

to vote as a no. President Trump asking about this fight during his news

conference today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

KEVIN CIRILL, CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS:  Have you received (INAUDIBLE)

health care (INAUDIBLE). What exactly, sir, do you think will unify this

Republican Party?

 

TRUMP:  Well Kevin, I think we have a very unified Republican Party. After

all, we have the presidency. We have the House. We have the Senate. And

we`re getting along very well, I will tell you and if you were at the

meeting that I just attended where we took 12 no`s or semi no`s, no yeses

and within a short period of time everybody was very much on board and a

commitment to vote yes.

 

I think we have a very unified party. I think actually more unified than

even the election. You see, when they talk about me, I seem to be very

popular at least this week within the party because we have our highest

numbers – the highest numbers that I`ve ever had in the party. So I think

there`s a great unification.

 

Now health care is a very, very difficult subject. It`s a very complex

subject and it`s a subject that, you know, goes both ways. You do something

for one side and the other side doesn`t like it, but it`s really something

that`s come together very well, and I think it`s going to be very, very

popular. Extremely popular.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Back with me Clarence Page, Susan Ferrechio and Kevin

Cirilli who asked that question to President Trump. Kevin, if you had

gotten a follow-up question because I know you don`t get followup questions

in those instances, what do you want to ask as a followup question?

 

CIRILLI:  What exactly is he going to concede on to the Tea Party? Some of

these House Freedom Caucus members who have great concerns, people like

Senator Rand Paul who have argued that the so-called Cadillac Tax wants to

be institutionalized by House Speaker Paul Ryan`s friends so. Look, from a

policy standpoint there`s stuff in this legislation that the White House

likes considering the fact that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office

says it`s going to return $337 billion to the government.

 

There`s also a lot that folks don`t like, people like Senator Dean Heller

who is a moderate just came out against this in the Republican Party, who

says that, you know, wait a minute, 14 million Americans could lose health

insurance within the first year. This is a tight, tight tricky issue for

this president that he`s going to have to play political referee on.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Susan, how does the GOP get this passed? What can they do?

 

SUSAN FERRECHIO, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON

EXAMINER:  They do it step by step. I think if they can get it to the House

next week, they`ve got the whole week to work on it. It`s going to go

through another committee first and then it will make it to the floor. If

they can cobble together that 218, I think when it gets to the Senate there

may be changes in the senate. There will be a process where it could be

amended and I think that`s where you might see more changes –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  What could make Senator Collins happy, Senator Rand Paul

happy and now Senator Heller happy?

 

FERRECHIO:  I`m not sure you can make Senator Rand Paul happy. They can

lose two and they probably will, right. But I think what they`ll end up

doing is making changes to accommodate the more disgruntled factions. So,

in the House it will be as Kevin was saying, a more conservative Tea Party

based Republicans. And in the Senate, it will be people who like Tom –

people are concerned like Tom Cotton or Susan Collins about the number of

people who are going to be kicked off Medicaid, the phasing out period.

 

There may be some wiggle room there but Republicans have insisted the

authors of this bill that there can`t be major changes to this. Something

has got to change though in order to get these people on board. The Senate

is a larger problem but it first has to get through the House.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Clarence, you know, none of these bills are ever perfect

because it`s all – and then big problems because we just don`t have enough

money to keep everybody happy all the time. So that should be –

 

CLARENCE PAGE, EDITOR WRITER, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  We call that deficit

spending.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yes.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

PAGE:  That`s how Washington solves that.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  So, people are going to be enormously unhappy whether it

passes or it doesn`t pass and so – how does it help Trump politically to

have this wrapped around his neck as Trumpcare?

 

PAGE:  I don`t see how it helps him at all. I mean he can survive the

midterms because he`s not going to be on the ballot. He won`t be on the

ballot. People who are on the ballot are already very nervous. Joe Manchin

is a senator I have a lot of respect for from West Virginia, a conservative

Democrat.

 

He knows the grass roots quite well and he said most folks in his state who

are on Obamacare don`t know they`re on Obamacare. But they will know it

when they lose it. And they`re always going to remember which party took it

away from them. And that is something that people, realists know across the

country. And that`s why you have such a different reaction in the House

than the Senate because senators have to appeal to a broader base of voters

than they do in the House and so you`ve got a lot more narrow factions. I

don`t know how you satisfy all these folks.

 

FERRECHIO:  The overarching problem for Republicans is from the get go,

this is about taking away an entitlement. The whole idea of repealing

Obamacare is taking away an entitlement. When has that ever happened

successfully in America? It`s almost political suicide some people would

argue. In this case – they`re trying to make a switcheroo so people aren`t

feeling like they`re taking away (INAUDIBLE) but they still save money.

It`s like putting together a Rubik`s cube. That`s what they`re –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  But they call it repeal. Is it repeal anyway or is this sort

of tinkering with the old –

 

FERRECHIO:  Well, it`s repealing the mandate, the taxes, a whole bunch of

things. Not all the taxes –

 

CIRILLI:  Not all the taxes.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why is it tinkering with the old – why isn`t it just

tinkering with Obamacare, I mean, if you`re not getting rid of the whole

thing?

 

PAGE:  Well, you can`t just pull it out because it gets all tangled, the

root and branch with other parts of the public and private sector. So,

repeal, well, you know, what do they mean by repeal? We`re probably going

to see that in the debate I think.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Panel, thank you.

 

Right now, President Trump`s plane, Air Force One has just arrived in West

Palm Beach, Florida. He will spend the weekend at the Mar-a-Lago Estate

today for the weekend. He`s going to have a busy week ahead though, of

course, that key vote of the GOP health care bill.

 

And take a look at this picture. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the

border of North Korea, and who is that behind him? Who is photobombing him?

We`ll explain.

 

And would the U.S. strike first? A warning to Kim Jong-Un, next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  The policy of strategic patience has

ended. We`re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic

measures. All options are on the table.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  All options are on the table. That is Secretary of State Rex

Tillerson. He made that threat to North Korea while in South Korea today.

Those are his strongest words yet on North Korea`s nuclear program. The

secretary declining to rule out military action.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TILLERSON:  Certainly we do not want to – for things to get to a military

conflict. We`re quite clear in that in our communications, but obviously if

North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own

forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  The secretary also going to the demilitarized zone on the

border of North Korea, that`s the most heavily board armed border in the

world. And look at this. This is a bit eerie. A North Korean soldier

visible in the window, apparently taking a photo of Secretary Tillerson.

Meanwhile, President Trump tweeting this morning, “North Korea is behaving

very badly. They have been playing the United States for years. China has

done little to help.”

 

Secretary Tillerson`s next stop on his Asia tour is China. And as we

reported yesterday, the threat of nuclear weapons coming into renewed focus

with the release of newly declassified and terrifying videos of nuclear

weapon tests from the cold war era. Four-star General Barry McCaffrey joins

us now. Nice to see you, sir.

 

BARRY MCCAFFREY, RETIRED U.S. ARMY:  Good to be with you, Greta.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  When I hear the secretary say all options on the table I

sort of hear that as code for military as it was part of it and of course

he didn`t rule out a military as an option. But what could we possibly do

from a military standpoint? They`ve done five nuclear tests but their

nuclear programs are either hidden in mounds or hidden underground so we

don`t know where they really are to take them out. The country is

hermetically sealed. We don`t have a, you know, a huge amount of

intelligence there, so what can it possibly be?

 

MCCAFFREY:  Well, I think Secretary Tillerson actually had a pretty

balanced sensible approach to it and so did Secretary Mattis a few weeks

back when he was in Korea. North Korea is a train wreck pending. It`s

highly unlikely that we`re going to take unilateral first strike against

their nuclear weapons. They`re on the verge of having an operational ICBM,

of having a submarine launched ballistic missile.

 

They will probably have 100 or more nuclear weapons in a fairly short

period of time and I think our only option right now is to ramp up the

anti-ballistic missile defenses in both South Korea and Japan and at sea

with the U.S. Navy. These people are dangerous.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well that would be the THAAD missile defense in South Korea

that China is so mad about us, you know, setting up in South Korea.

 

MCAFFREY:  We absolutely have to ignore them. We got to put money and

resources into all three phases of it. Not just THAAD, sort of a short end

rapid response to a theatre ballistic missile. We got strategic missiles,

thank god, in Alaska, in Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the Navy has some

very capable systems and we`ve got PAC-3 Patriot upgrade. We`ve got to

invest in this. These people are a threat to the American people.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  If we set up the THAAD missile defense and did all that you

suggested and, you know, what about the fact that they are so loaded with

artillery on the border between North Korea and South Korea? I mean are we

prepared for that?

 

MCAFFREY:  Not at all. I mean, that`s the big question. The appropriate

question you raise, the figures are possibly some 12,000 conventional

artillery pieces can range this megalopolis of Seoul, Korea, with 25

million people so I think we got to be concerned about now –

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  How do you fight that?

 

MCAFFREY:  – is miscalculation.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  How do you defend against that?

 

MCAFFREY:  We got to worry about – well, I don`t think you do. I think if

they start shelling across the border and any significant way, I think it`s

going to go almost immediately to all-out war. The South Korean armed

forces are clearly going to take action and we will end up being involved

in it.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  General, thank you for joining us. Hope you`ll come back,

sir.

 

MCAFFREY:  Yes. Good to be with you.

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Breaking news, Senator Joni Ernst is having a town hall in

Iowa. It`s getting well, a little bit feisty. Tough questions on health

care, guns and education. That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE:  Health care for all! Health care for all! Health

care for all!

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Breaking news from Iowa. GOP Senator Joni Ernst holding a

town hall and it is getting pretty heated. Moments ago a constituent asking

the U.S. senator why she voted for Education Secretary Betsy Devos.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would also like to know why you voted for her when

the people of Iowa said no.

 

(CROWD CHEERING)

 

SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA:  Thank you for being a teacher, and yes, she

will be held accountable and the decisions that she makes – if she is

planning on making any wide sweeping changes, that would have to go through

Congress and we would have to – we would need to approve that. So, we will

– so, I will hold her accountable in that manner.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  And then a young girl had this question on gun control.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Never before has there been a huge chance of me being

shot and killed at school. I don`t want to be shot. I want to learn. Why do

you keep voting against common sense gun reform?

 

(CROWD CHEERING)

 

ERNST:  That`s a really good question.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Senator Ernst responding that we need to enforce the gun

laws already on the books. And before I go, it is Friday, contest night.

Someone is going to win some record swag. Name that tune, quick. Go to

www.facebook.com/greta. Thank you for watching. Have a great weekend. I`ll

see you back here Monday night 6:00 p.m. eastern. If you can`t watch live,

set your DVR. Follow me on twitter but make sure you go to my Facebook

page. You may win show swag. Go right now. “Hardball” starts right now.

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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