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For the Record with Greta, Transcript 2/27/2017

Guests: Joe Crowley, Doug Collins, Shawn Henry, Alan Dershowitz, Catherine Rampell, Jonathan Alter, Jason Bellini

Show: For the Record with Greta Date: February 27, 2017 Guest: Joe Crowley, Doug Collins, Shawn Henry, Alan Dershowitz, Catherine Rampell, Jonathan Alter, Jason Bellini

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: This happening, a special prosecutor? Well, tonight, new pressure on congress and the Trump administration to settle unsettling questions about Russia and the Trump campaign. The president calls it fake news. But not only are Democrats demanding answers, but now even some Republicans are. Should and will attorney general Jeff Sessions name a special prosecutor. Plus, now as former president Bush 43 breaking with the Trump administration on the travel ban and on whether the press is the enemy. And Rosie O`Donnell, she`s about to take on President Trump again. She`s headed for Washington to protest at the front gate of the White House. Yes, Rosie O`Donnell is back. My thought, brace yourself.

We are 27 hours from President Trump mile ride from the White House Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol for his speech for a joint session of congress. We know he`s preparing, but what about the elephant in the room? Questions dogging him about his campaign allege ties to Russia. And this key questions circling Capitol Hill tonight, should a special prosecutor be named to investigate. Well, today the man in charge of leading a house investigation congressman Devin Nunes, held an unexpected 40 minute press conference, in part responding to this Washington Post report saying the Trump administration asked him to counter Russia stories to challenge reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEVIN NUNES, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: We still have not seen any evidence of anyone -- from the Trump campaign or any other campaign for that matter that`s communicated with the Russia government. As of right now, I don`t have any evidence that would of any phone calls, that doesn`t mean they don`t exist, but I don`t have that. And what I have been told is -- by many folks is that there`s nothing there.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Why not name a special prosecutor to take away the notion that this could be tainted by politics.

NUNES: Well, I mean, look, this is -- we`re the legislative branch of government. We`re elected. I think the history of special prosecutors is mixed. And at this point what are we going to appoint a special prosecutor to do exactly. But there is at some point we have serious crimes being committed it would be supplemented be consider, but at this point we don`t have that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Later the top Democrat and the house intelligence committee pushed back.


ADAM SCHIFF, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: The committee reached no conclusion on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, Russian officials, or any Russians contacts, nor could we. We have called no witnesses thus far. We obtained no documents on any counter intelligent investigation, and we have yet to receive any testimony from the FBI on the investigation of potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Also today, the president was asked if there should be a special prosecutor on Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you support a special prosecutor on Russia?


UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you support a special prosecutor on Russia?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, take care.


(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: But there are growing calls for a special prosecutor. Top Republicans say there is no need, but one Republican disagrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to ask the intelligence committee in the house and senate to investigate within these special areas .

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Now we have independent prosecutor.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot have a somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee, you`re going to need to use the special prosecutors statute and office to take not just to recuse, you just can`t give it to your deputy, that`s another political appointee. You do have to do that.


VAN SUSTEREN: And NBC`s Pete Williams reporting tonight, attorney general Jeff Sessions says he did not know in advance about the White House effort to get the FBI to knock down some news reports about the investigation of Russia`s alleged influence on the election. Sessions saying, the FBI and the justice department have to remain independent and they will do so, but not every contact is improper. Now asked if he knew about the contact in advance, he said no. With me congressman Joe Crowley, Democrat from the great state of New York, and chairman of the house Democratic caucus. Nice to see you, sir.

JOE CROWLEY, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you, Greta. Great to be with you again.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, I`m sure you know all the controversy that`s been going on, swirling around -- whether it should be investigation or not about a possible potential allegation of Russia`s ties with the Trump campaign. So where do you stand on the issue of whether there should be a special prosecutor named or not?

CROWLEY: Well, I think first of all, that the attorney general Sessions needs to recuse himself at the very least at the very start. But I would be in favor of a special prosecutor. I think there needs to be an independent look into all the layers that have been going on here for many months now, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: If there is a special prosecutor named -- by virtually naming one, attorney general Sessions would be out of the picture -- are you saying he should be the one to name the special prosecutor? If not, who should name that person?

CROWLEY: Well, whatever the chain of command would be after that. I think he has been too involved in the election of this president, as well as working with Michael Flynn. I think there are just too many personal connections here to do this in a fair and balance way. And I think he needs to remove himself to give creditability to whatever it takes place after that, whatever processes that the special prosecutor that would be appointed. But I do think the American people want to have a full investigation as to just what the links are of our president to the government of Russia.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying you have confidence in Capitol Hill doing that investigation.

CROWLEY: Well, apparently, so far, Mr. Nunes the chair of the intelligence committee here is saying there`s nothing to look at. You know he`s look to all of it and sees no evidence of any substantial link. You know, I beg to differ that there`s needs to be a more substantial investigation into this. There`re too many red flags. Literary, red flags.

VAN SUSTEREN: Like what? What`s your biggest red flag?

CROWLEY: Well, I think the fact that -- what is for me that the president has never yet criticize Vladimir Putin. He`s criticized Hillary Clinton, Democrats. He`s criticized the intelligence community, but never once he has flat out criticized the Russians for one. We know that Manafort, we know that Carter Page had direct -- as well as Mr. Flynn had direct conversations -- on-going conversation with the Russian government, Russians officials during the campaign and post campaign. So to me those are incredible red flags that need to be investigated. Given that we know that the Russian government, Putin himself, no friend of the United States, did involve himself in -- 17 intelligence agencies have said did involve himself in our electoral process.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Turn to tomorrow night I assumed you intend to go. Do you know and Democrats who do not intend to go, who might be for whatever reason, you know, not happy with the White House not attending. Do you know anyone like that who is not attending.

CROWLEY: I can`t think of any Democrat who right now who is happy with this White House.


CROWLEY: But, Greta, I haven`t heard of anyone specifically at this point who is not attending.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In terms of the reception that the president is going to give, I assume you`ll get a warm reception from the Republican side of the aisle. Do you expect him to get a warm reception from the Democratic side of the aisle?

CROWLEY: I think that he`ll get a polite reception to the office. The respect that we all have for the office of the presidency will get that polite response. But I think Democrats will show when they don`t agree by sitting down or not applauding, just like Republicans did to Barack Obama.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do we have any guidance from leader Pelosi?

CROWLEY: No, at this point there`s not. I think the leader is respectful of the office of the president. Has a lot of disagreement as I do with this particular president himself, for the first month of the actions that he`s taken. The executive orders. But we do have incredible high regards for the office of the presidency and the system that we have.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Crowley, thank you very much for joining us, sir.

CROWLEY: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Doug Collins, Republican from the great state of Georgia, who`s also vice-chair of the house Republican caucus and serves in the house judiciary committee joins us. Good evening, sir.

DOUG COLLINS, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Hi, Greta. How are you tonight?

VAN SUSTEREN: I`m very well. Your thoughts on whether a special prosecutor should be named or not to investigate the allegation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia?

COLLINS: I think not at this point. I think the intelligence committees on both the house and senate have just begun that process. I think Chairman Nunes today actually discussed that. There are differences on how fast or how slow this process is going. But I think the proper for starting places and within our house intelligence committee access to classified briefings, access to the things that they need to do, and began to look at this. And I think it does need to be something we need to look into it. It`s part of the oversight that we need to be a part of. But let`s take the process that is starting right now and let`s begin to work that process first.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you fear any sort of criticism though that the house -- because the house is run by Republicans that they`ll slow walk this. The intelligence committee does most of its hearings and investigations behind closed doors. And you`ve got the problem that at least 53 percent in a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll from February 18 say that 53 percent say that U.S. congress should investigate. They didn`t say special prosecutor, but that there is at least significant number of American people who are curious about this, and do you not want to swiftly put this to rest and satisfy everyone.

COLLINS: Well, I think sometimes we have to look at it. I think you do need to look at this. I think the issue is how you swiftly is are you taking swiftly just to come to a predetermined conclusion, or are you taking swiftly to actually look in to it, actually looking at the details, not take the headlines, and not take the rumors, and the innuendo, and you take it and actually look at it. Look, we`re dealing with not just the house in this, but we`re dealing with the senate as well. So when you both beginning to look at it with both Democrat members and Republican members looking in to this, I think the issue is not an issue of time, the issue is are you doing it effectively. We`ve seen too many times on the hill when you do it quickly and don`t get a proper result, and I think we need to do that properly.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. One Republican has suggested the special prosecutor name only one, I can see that -- Democrats don`t -- the Democrats want a special prosecutor named. All right. Do you believe that they`re doing that for political reason? Do they have distrust of the intelligence community or why do you think they`re doing that?

COLLINS: Well, I think what else they`re going to talk about right now. I think they`re not happy this administration, they`re not happy that the Republican majority is moving forward on the things we`ve promised on healthcare and also looking towards tax reform and regulatory reform. I think the interesting thing here is also when you listen to the comments -- my friend Joe Crowley just a second ago said that one of his main emphases for making sure that we investigate this is the fact that the president never directly confronted or made any disparaging comments about Vladimir Putin. Well, I don`t think -- I`m not sure I have to go back and check, but I don`t think I ever made any disparaging comments about Joe Crowley, but I wouldn`t vote for Joe Crowley. So, I mean, I think we`ve got to be very careful on how we`re going about this. And I think what we`re doing is in the proper way, and looking for -- keeping it within the context of what is fact or what is fiction. And we move forward on giving the American people the result. If I was in the Democratic Party without the agenda with the defeat from last November, I think they`re searching for anything to try to delegitimize this president and to slow the Republican majority down for doing the things we`ve promised to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect tomorrow night that he will get a warm -- as Congressman Crowley said a polite reception from all the Democrats.

COLLINS: I think -- Congressman Crowley and I could probably agree, I think he`s going to get a nice reception -- good reception from the Republican. I think there will be a polite reception from the Democrats. I think this is just the kind of speeches that placed themselves out that way in which you`ll have the positives and the negatives expressed in applause and also sitting.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you very much for joining us. Hope you`ll come back.

COLLINS: Greta, I look forward to it. Take care.

VAN SUSTEREN: The White House pushing back on reports of ties between associates of President Trump and Russia. Here`s what White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: Well, look, I think -- easy answer here is that the FBI is already said this story is B.S. Those are theirs words. So I apologize to my mom. But literary those are the words of the FBI that the story is B.S. That came to us, they approach us. We`re putting that story out there. I think the American people deserve to know the truth, and that`s exactly what it is that there`s nothing here. Just because reporters say something over, and over, and over again, doesn`t start to make it true.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: The FBI has not publicly commented on this story. Shawn Henry is former executive assistant director to the FBI. Nice to see you, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any problem with the deputy director of the FBI pulling Reince Priebus chief-of-staff aside and saying that the story that is in the New York Times making allegation about Trump campaign having a contact or ties with Russian intelligence that that was B.S.

HENRY: Well, I don`t know is that happened. I`ve heard what the White House spokesperson said. I think that to the extent that there` is a criminal investigation, and that`s actually not been determined at this point officially. But to the extent that there is, there should be a separation naturally between the FBI and the White House. The FBI is an independent collector of the facts. They are not by policy to discuss any ongoing criminal investigations with the White House. It`s supposed to be independent. They work through the department of justice. So anything or any appearance of discussion could be deemed to be improper, and certainly is not the right perception to maintain that level of independence, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: you know, there`s a part of me that understand if someone pulled me aside and said that some story about me or something that is very concern about or somehow connected to me in the New York Times was false or B.S. Is that there would be something in me that would really want to correct it fast. Not just say, oh, OK, that`s nice. And I know that everyone said that the White House, quote, knock down -- was trying to get people to know down the story. I sort of interpreted a little bit differently if the facts are as we`ve learned them or heard them so far. I thought it was like trying to correct the record. I want the right things said about me.

HENRY: Yeah, you know, obviously, if there`s this false allegation, we`ve heard comments about leaks and the likes. You know, the FBI had been involved in investigations for over a hundred years. That level of independence is critically important. I know that that`s come into question in the last six months or so. But when I was there in the bureau, there really was a impartiality, it was a political organization, and we follow the facts to where they lead. And when we uncovered facts, we presented them to a prosecutor to get an opinion if we were to go further. The bureau needs to maintain that level of persistence and ensure that they maintain the appropriate appearance and handle things effectively and efficiently, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: But now we are where we are. Why do you think that statement was made? You know, what would be I think is a political reasons or assuming that this all happens as we keep reading about it. I mean, why would the deputy A.G. make that statement to the chief of staffs?

HENRY: You`re talking about the deputy director was the comment. Look, I don`t know if they`re at a cocktail party or if they`re at an informal function and somebody says something.

VAN SUSTEREN: It was after a meeting. What I understand that the deputy director of the FBI said it after a meeting at the White House. Pulled them aside.

HENRY: Right. I don`t know -- if in fact he said that, why he would have that. If it was an offhand comment. If it was misinterpreted. I don`t know why he would have said that. If he did in fact hear something or was aware that certain comments were inappropriate. You know, perhaps he made an offhand comment. I don`t know why he did that. I know that it`s critical that the bureau maintain that level of balance, and that impartiality that provides credibility to the American public that they`re handling investigations in a way that the public should be proud off, and the public quite honestly deserves.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, thank you very much for joining us. I hope you`ll come back.

HENRY: Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does former president, George W. Bush, think about a special prosecutor and how it will work? Alan Dershowitz joins me next. And President Trump versus the media, fallout from the president skipping the White House Correspondence Dinner, we are live at White House. And Rosie is coming to town. Now she and Donald Trump, the president, have been longtime foes. What is Rosie O`Donnell planning outside the White House tomorrow? And President Trump has a theory on why the Oscars made an epic blunder.



UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like to see a special prosecutor appointed to look into in to this once and for all, and give the American people answers.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, first of all, I think we all need answers, whether or not special prosecutor is the right way to go or not, you`re talking to the wrong guy. I have great faith with Ricard Burr, for example, he`s the head of the senate intelligence committee, really good guy, and an independent thinker. And, you know, if he were to recommend a special prosecutor and then I could -- I`ll be -- you know, then it would have a lot more creditability with me.


VAN SUSTEREN: The former president, George W. Bush, saying we all need answers. But the former president did not go so far as to suggest special prosecutor should be named to investigate allegations of Trump campaign- Russia`s ties. Alan Dershowitz is a constitutional law scholar and president-emeritus at the Harvard of Law School and joins us. Nice to see you, Alan. And, OK, there`s a lot of suspicious swirling around Washington, across the nation, in fact, whether or not there was ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in any fashion. How would you resolve this for the American people?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, the Democrats are right, there has to be a full and independent investigation, but they did wrong when they call for a special prosecutors. Special prosecutors are supposed to come only when there`s significant evidence of criminal conduct. In this case, George W. Bush happened to be right about that. We need an investigation but not by a special prosecutor, at least not at this point. I have seen no evidence of any criminal conduct. Yeah, the Logan Act may have been violated. That has not been prosecuted since 1803. What we`re seeing here is very serious policy issues that the American public have a right to get to the bottom of. And now the Democrats are right, they don`t trust the Republicans to conduct the investigation. So what we need is a third way, not a special prosecutor, not a congressional investigation, we need an independent investigation the kind that was conducted on 9/11, and many others times in our history. Where you get independent people with subpoena power, not related to congress, not related to the justice department, not special prosecutors, let them probe this to the depth, if they see evidence of crime then you can have a special prosecutor. I doubt we`ll find evidence of crime, but I wouldn`t be surprise if we found some evidence that will make the American public very uncomfortable about the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Trump administration and the adminstration of the Russians or the Putin.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So how do you create that commission? Who picks the commission so that the American people are satisfied that`s fair?

DERSHOWITZ: It`s very hard to do. And we do it generally when there was a consensus like after 9/11. Everybody knew there have to be a commission. I think pressure has to come from the people. The pressure has to come from the media. We do need an investigation. I think that`s clear. And I think the other two things that are clear is we can`t get it from the congress, and we shouldn`t get it from an independent prosecutor because there`s no evidence of crime. That, by the way, will be appointed by the attorney general or one of his deputies anyway. We need a bipartisan commission to look at this from an American point of view, not a Republican point of view, not a Democratic point of view, but it`s America who suffers when a foreign country interferes with our election. So I think we need to put pressure on congress to appoint an independent commission to investigate this, not the usual way through congressional investigation which would be partisan, or special prosecutor which is too (INAUDIBLE) at this point. This is no evidence of crime.

VAN SUSTEREN: Apparently, this is -- of course, the deputy A.G., the FBI pulled Reince Priebus aside after a meeting at the White House and said that the New York Times report was B.S. That was the term that was use. And then, of course, Reince Priebus, depending on who you talk to. Some saying he tried to knock down the report. And, you know, frankly, I think he probably was trying corrects the record. At least get the truth out if this is New York Times story was wrong. Where do you stand on this whole sort of Reince Priebus and the White House talking to people trying to get the truth out to -- at least their version of the facts out to the American people?

DERSHOWITZ: Look, the FBI shouldn`t be talking to the White House. They`re regulations about that, but there`s law about it. There is no criminal statute about it. They`re regulations. And this is not Richard Nixon. This is not trying to get the CIA to cover for criminal conduct. This is a four on a scale of ten politically, and a zero on a scale of ten legally. So let`s keep it in perspective. Let`s take a deep breath. Let`s have the investigation, but let`s not turn it into a partisan attack by the Democrats or partisan defense by the Republicans. The American people are entitled to a fair and full and complete investigation. And then, let`s us judge, and let`s us use our judgment in deciding who to vote for in future elections.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Since now you`re an emeritus at Harvard, I assume that when you`re not writing books you`ve got more extra time. Would you chair this commission?

DERSHOWITZ: I`m too old to do that. But, of course, I would serve -- look, I will serve on any commission. I`m a loyal patriotic American. If my country calls on me to serve a commission, I would serve on a commission. I think what it needed is people from both party, people with non-party, independence, people with prosecutorial, people with defense experience, people who can get to the bottom of this, and tell the American people the truth. We`re entitled to know the non-partisan truth.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Maybe I`ve gotten you a job on your retirement, Alan. Anyway, thank you, Alan, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Still ahead, President Trump comments about winning wars and a budget plan that could put him on a fatal collision course with Speaker Paul Ryan. Plus, former president, George W. Bush, saying what he thinks about the Trump travel ban and the media. And brace yourselves, the return of Rosie O`Donnell and her famous feud with the man who is now president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAN SUSTEREN: President Donald Trump promised a massive increase in the military budget, and today his administration announcing plans for $54 billion increase defenses spending to be offset by reduction in foreign aid and other domestic spending. The president saying the United States has to, quote, start winning wars again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have to win. We have to start winning wars again. We never lost a war. America never lost. And now, we never win a war. We never win. And we don`t fight to win. We don`t fight to win. We`ve either got to win or don`t fight it at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me, Catherine Rampell, opinion columnist for the Washington Post, Jonathan Alter a columnist for the Daily Beast, and Jason Bellini, reporter from the Wall Street Journal. Catherine, first to you, the president says we`ll start winning wars again.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s an interesting observation given that, you know, he said that when he was in high school or college we have never lost a war. I`m not exactly sure where things stand with Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN: It`s still ongoing.

RAMPELL: It`s still ongoing. The war of 1812, according to many historians was sort of a draw. So I`m not exactly sure that that observation in of itself holds up. Beyond that, I mean, I think it`s a bit of an insult to our military to say that we`re not fighting to win. The whole language of like we need to start winning again there`s -- it`s something about that framework make me a bit uncomfortable. You know, we should be fighting for peace, right? Not so much about land grabs and oil grabs in that sort of language.

JONATHAN ALTER, THE DAILY BEAST: I mean, you know, the point of a big military is deterrence.


ALTER: We don`t want our presidents being bellicose and talking about fighting wars. He came to office claiming that, you know, he thought the Iraq war was a bad idea and he didn`t want us to get into war so why is he talking about wars. It makes one a little alarmed. And then also when we did have trouble in Iraq and Vietnam, it was not because the defense budget wasn`t big enough.

It was because we didn`t use our military power properly in coordination with political efforts and diplomatic efforts. And so the idea that, you know, we have trouble in the world because we haven`t had a big enough military doesn`t really (INAUDIBLE) scrutiny.


JASON BELLINI, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I was going to say, he may have a victory, a onetime victory on his watch in Mosul. He kicked out ISIS. If that`s successful enough maybe weeks, months away and --

VAN SUSTEREN: He will take that as his victory, believe me. If they push it on, he will take credit for that.

BELLINI: He probably doesn`t want to get on an aircraft carrier with a mission accomplished sign on that and when dealing with Islamic state.

VAN SUSTEREN: But (INAUDIBLE) where is he, I mean, this is the -- I don`t where the money is coming for any of this. I mean that`s the one thing that we know, we ever keeps talking about. Maybe we do need to spend this more money or don`t but we just don`t have a lot of this money.

BELLINI: Well, the plan is announced today as you take it from one pot, one discretionary pot that`s been shrinking and shrinking and put it into other to the tune of $56 billion.

VAN SUSTEREN: But we also got to pay for the wall. We got to pay for 15,000 border agencies.

ALTER: Cutting, you know, the national endowment for the arts or whatever they want to cut is not going to pay for these big defense increases. It`s true that they`ve been way behind on maintenance in the F-18`s and some other important aircraft for our defense but they -- that`s because of what they call the sequester under Obama --

VAN SUSTEREN: Which is another mess?

ALTER: -- bad policy making over the last 10 years or as a private defense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now to former president George W. Bush this morning answering questions from Matt Lauer in the "Today" show about President Trump`s travel ban and whether President Trump can unify the country.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it`s very important for all us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. I mean the bedrock of our freedom -- a bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely.

I am for an immigration policy that`s welcoming and that upholds the law. I think you have to take the man for his word that he wants to unify the country and we`ll see whether he`s able to do so.


VAN SUSTEREN: Catherine, he wants to unify the country and I think every president wants to do that but he`s going to have a tough road ahead of him, at least tomorrow night.

RAMPELL: Well, certainly George W. Bush know something about, talking about unification and then landing in a position where there is a lot more division, right. He branded it as a uniter not a divider himself. I would argue that Trump has not done a lot to show good faith in terms of trying to unite the country --

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just say one thing though. He`s brought more people into the Oval Office that I think that President Obama did. He`s had labor in there. He` had people from all walks of life in there. I`ve got to him credit for --



ALTER: I think that`s a myth about Obama. He had plenty of people in (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: The head of the teamsters was in my office about two weeks ago. He said can you believe that I was in the Oval Office. I was never in the Oval Office when President Obama was president.

RAMPELL: But my -- what I was going to say is that, you know, there are parts of Trump`s agenda that do have strong bipartisan appeal, the things that he talked about during the campaign, things like paid family leave, infrastructure --

VAN SUSTEREN: Now we get back to the money again.

RAMPELL: But my point is that he`s instead prioritizing things that are just us expensive, if not more so that do not have appeal to the other side of the isle. So there is room for him to stay true to his agenda and reach across the isle.

ALTER: I was really struck just to focus on Bush for a second. So, remember after 9/11 he went to a mosque, he understood that going to war with more than a billion Muslims was not a good idea. It was not good for our intelligence. It was not good for defending against terrorism because we need the help of other Muslims nations and Trump doesn`t seem to understand that.

And Bush also understands that immigration has made America great and that, you know, he wanted immigration reform when he was president. So it`s a reminder of some of the areas in which George W. Bush was much more moderate and I think much more sensible than Donald Trump.

BELLINI: Well, I think the moment from the Bush interview today was when he said that power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive in the context of why the media is so essential and it seemed like a bit of a swipe up to the current president right now. It was actually nice to see the former president looking so relaxed. And there`s some funny comments from people like George Takei who said, "You know things are bad when George W. Bush start sounding like a member of the resistance."

VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump is about to give his first speech to Congress and an uninvited guest has shown up outside the White House, and it`s not a friend.

And we all saw the epic fail at the Oscars. How did it happen? President Trump says he knows what went wrong.


VAN SUSTEREN: Rosy O`Donnell is taking her famous feud with President Trump to his doorstep. Tomorrow, O`Donnell will help lead a protest right outside the White House and just hours before the president hops in the presidential limousine to go up to Capitol Hill to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. O`Donnell today tweeting, quote, "Watch the protest before in front of the White House." It`s a showdown that has been brewing for a while.


ROSIE O`DONNELL, ACTRESS: I just think that this man is like sort of one of those, you know, snake oil salesman in "Little House on the Prairie."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean I`ve always felt to myself, I`ve always felt she`s a degenerate.

O`DONNELL: There his hair (INAUDIBLE)


TRUMP: Well, I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.


VAN SUSTEREN: Back with me, Catherine Rampell, Jonathan Alter and Jason Bellini. Jason, I`ll let you take the first shot. What do you say?

BELLINI: Well, is she baiting him because so far --


BELLINI: Well --

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a question?

BELLINI: -- but he hasn`t. To his credit, he has not taken the bait. If he`s been -- if the president said watching --

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you seen her twitter account the last hour? I don`t know, we`ve been on the air so I don`t know.

BELLINI: Well, but not so far but I think she`s after him calling him, you know, an orange slug. She kind of held her fire until the election. She didn`t think he was going to win but since then, if you look back to an audit of her tweets about Donald Trump, a lot of them, you know, really nasty.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this conviction or is this getting even? Any political conviction.

BELLINI: I think I don`t doubt her sincerity but I think that --

VAN SUSTEREN: So this is conviction (INAUDIBLE) not just like a feud.

RAMPELL: I don`t think it matters. I think whatever her convictions are it`s going to be perceived as vengeance and I don`t think she`s the avatar for legitimate grievances about what present administration is doing for that for that reason.

ALTER: A lot of his tweets he says sad -- that`s the way he ends his tweets. To me this is sad, you know, 11 years ago this ridiculous feud started and it was kind of bread (ph) and circus thing. It was entertainment for the American public and now it`s at the very center of our system of government and it`s a joke.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did that happen?

ALTER: How did that happen?

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, how did it happen?

ALTER: That`s question historians are going to ask is how a dopey celebrity feud not only went national and global but actually, you know, started to infect our democracy.

VAN SUSTEREN: What would you tell that historian?

ALTER: That history can sometimes play as farce.

VAN SUSTEREN: I still have no explanation for it, but I will, you know, watch it carefully. Anyway, Press Secretary Sean Spicer today previewing the president`s speech before Congress saying President Trump will layout an optimistic vision for the country


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The theme will be the renewal of the American spirit. He will invite Americans of all backgrounds to come together in the service of a stronger and brighter future for our nation.


VAN SUSTEREN: This is President Trump`s approval rating. It lingers at 44 percent in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. It`s a record low for newly inaugurated president. Jason, tomorrow night, do you expect him to sort of be, you know, what we call presidential. He`s not going to pick a fight. He`s not going to trash the media. He`s not going to trash Rosie. Would you expect this from him?

BELLINI: Even though there are reports that there may be some undocumented migrants who are to be brought by members of Congress in the audience, but I think that we watch whether he`s going to go from the platitudes that we heard again and again and again during the campaign and we heard again and again and again since he`s been president to actually a plan particularly on health care.

What is he going to say? He`s had tough leaders in congress in within trying to push their idea. Is he going to give us something that we can really analyze where we can put some numbers on it or we`re going to get -- and all of the issues that are relevant right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Catherine, I think this is up to a pivotal point for him because I think that he`s got a chance to like grab the attention of the American people and sort of focus at the way a little bit less from the feuds and maybe towards the problems and potential solutions which we will disagree upon of course. Everybody will, but, and nonetheless, at least we`re talking solutions to serious problems. RAMPELL: Yes. I will be listening for examples for any indication as to what he`s looking for in an infrastructure package, in a tax overhaul. Will it be actually tax reform as oppose to just tax cuts? You know, there`s a difference between the two.

Will he layout anymore details for his vision for a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. So far he has basically made lots of sometimes contradictory promises about what the law will look like once Congress is through with it. So I`m very interested to hear what his solutions are and whether he puts any meat to the bones of his outlines.

ALTER: He said he wouldn`t talk about the media. I`m not so sure. He is trying to use --

VAN SUSTEREN: I said I hoped he wouldn`t.

ALTER: Yes. I mean he`s trying to use us as a scapegoat and to deflect attention from his other problems. He generally sticks with the themes he feels are working for him and I think there will be a little bit of a jab at us at some point in the speech. I`m looking to what he says about Medicaid. Medicaid expansion -- that`s the core of Obamacare.

It`s insured more than ten million people. The governors just came in and told him, many of them including many Republicans that they want to keep their ability to get this Medicaid money from Washington. But conservatives on Capitol Hill want to scrap that. We don`t know yet where the White House is on that critical issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: I`m hoping that, you know, somehow it would be a moment when we all sort of take a deep breath and give everybody a chance, but that`s pretty (INAUDIBLE) of me. Anyway, thank you all.

And finally the president speaking out about the Oscars and now the infamous mix-up with the Best Picture award in the interview with Breitbart, the president said, quote, "I think they were focused so hard on politics that they did not get the act together in the end. It was a little sad. It took away from the glamour of the Oscars." That`s your sad there, right. It was sad, the Oscars.

ALTER: I didn`t think it was sad. I think it was hilarious. I loved the whole thing. You know, again, he is trying to deflect something that goes with his particular view of things. What happened was a stage hand gave Warren Beatty the wrong envelope.

VAN SUSTEREN: The wrong one. Oh, brother.

ALTER: That`s it. End of story.

BELLINI: That`s dishonest.

ALTER: Rigged. Rigged.

RAMPELL: I think rigged is the word of the moment.

VAN SUSTEREN: That`s pretty bad though. I mean, come on, let`s face it. That was pretty bad.

BELLINI: Embarrassing.

VAN SUSTEREN: It was great. (INAUDIBLE) that, but anyway -- and still he never miss a chance to speak up, never.

BELLINI: Let`s be sure of it. What`s is the state of the union, that`s what we`ll find out tomorrow. Is it great again yet?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well it`s not technically the state of the union so he doesn`t have to say that.

ALTER: No, he`s claiming credit for the January figures even though Obama was president for most of January. He`s using it a general economic figures to put on his ledger.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, thank you.

President Trump versus the media and fall-out for deciding to skip the annual correspondents` dinner. The president of the White House Correspondents` Association joins us live.


VAN SUSTEREN: And now three stories you may not now. Number three, the brick is back. The famous Nokia brick phone is back on the market 17 years after its first release. It got its name from its thick design but now it some modern touches including a new interface where everyone`s favorite cellphone game, Snake.

Number two, it turns out bees, they`re pretty smart. New studies shows that bees can learn to perform complex task. Scientist taught bumblebees to walk backwards while dragging a ball using a fake bee as a teacher. And once they learn that task, the bees were also able to train their fellow bees to do the same thing.

Then number one, the technology company Space X announced today that late next year they will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon. The civilians will launch into the space in a craft that runs completely on autopilot. That`s right, there will not be a trained astronaut aboard. Have fun whoever wants to do this one. So there it is. Now you know.

And President Trump busy again tweeting. That is how he dropped the social bomb that he will not be attending the White House Correspondents` Association dinner this year. It comes two weeks after the president called many news organizations fake news and the enemy of the American people. And then this morning former president George W. Bush talked to Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about whether he had ever considered the media to be the enemy of the American people.


BUSH: I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need an independent media to hold people like me to account, I mean, power can be addictive and it can be corrosive and it`s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power whether it be here or elsewhere.


VAN SUSTEREN: And like today, new comments from President Trump on the New York Times saying, "The intent is so evil and so bad I call them the failing New York Times and they write lies, they write lies." Now Jeff Mason is the White House correspondent for Reuters and president of the White House Correspondents` Association. Nice to have you back, Jeff. I take it you have not heard anything further from the White House about the White House Correspondents` Dinner and whether the president may decide to change his mind?

JEFF MASON, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS` ASSOCIATION: No, I haven`t gotten any indication that he`ll change his mind. I have talked to a couple of officials about it today, but on Saturday, it was surprise. We didn`t have a heads up that that was decision he was going to make or that he was going make it now two months before the dinner.

But the dinner will go on. The dinner will celebrate the first amendment. It will celebrate the good work of our journalist members who have covered politics in the White House over the last year and it will celebrate the next generation of journalists through our scholarship program where we`ll be giving scholarship to students. That dinner is not about the president of the United of the States. The dinner is about journalism and that`s what we`ll be highlighting on April 29th.

VAN SUSTEREN: It`s a little bit more though. It`s also sort of a roast and it`s a roast of the president also and you know, the president at least in prior dinners have gotten -- when he was there as a guest -- have gotten roasted pretty heavily and he wasn`t even on the desk. Can you understand a little bit why he might not want to come and spend the evening with the media?

MASON: I can understand that there`s tension between the president and the media. We can`t be na‹ve about that. When you have a president of the United States who is calling the media the enemy of the American people, naturally there`s going to be some tension there and of course we reject that characterization and I would echo and underscore what President George W. Bush said in the quote that you just played, that the media is indispensable to a healthy democracy.

But you`re right. The dinner does have jokes. There`s no question. We have an entertainer who makes some jokes and usually the president makes jokes as well. But the overall mission of that dinner is to do -- to uphold the principles that I just described.

VAN SUSTEREN: The president now has upped the ante calling the "New York Times" evil. I don`t think he`s ever called them evil before but that`s latest to a news organization today. You know, and he said something about lies and lies. If the "New York Times" was wrong in that February 17th article in which it said that there was evidence that there had been Trump campaign connections to Russian intelligence, would you understand why he might be upset with the "New York Times?"

MASON: You know, I can`t speak about the "New York Times" or comment about a specific story or news organization. I will say that I think journalists have the responsibility to tell and report the truth and if you make a mistake in your story it should be corrected.

.For sure that is a basic tenent of good and responsible journalism. And that is also frankly an important thing if you`re a public figure. If you say things that are wrong and find out later that you did then you should correct that as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I`ve called them up for saying this fake news business where he makes this sort of blanket and he says, like, everybody at all these news organizations are doing here are fake news. So I`ve certainly called him out about that, you know, I`m just (INAUDIBLE) sympathetic about it. If we can isolate a mistake and the mistake doesn`t get corrected, that`s where I go, but these are broad generalization --

MASON: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: But these broad generalizations, you know, don`t enhance anything. What`s it like down at the White House with the Press Corps and Sean Spicer?

MASON: Well, you know, we have sort of a rough day on Friday which we talked about before with the gaggle where many news organizations were not included. But today Sean was back at the podium and briefing on the record and on television so that`s a good thing and I`m hoping that that`s the trend that will continue and the White House Correspondents` Association will continue working on that and on our relationship with his press team.

But there, yes, there is tension. There`s tension between the press and the White House, but the press is doing its job and that`s what we`ll continue to do regardless of the rhetoric that comes from either the president of the United States or others.

VAN SUSTEREN: The White House has been critical of the anonymous sources. Are people in the administration -- I want you to name names, but are they making comments to the press and refusing to be identified?

MASON: Yes. I mean, I have said this before, a journalist would almost always prefer to have a name source in your story. I certainly would but this White House along with many other White Houses often gives information out that is on background. And on background means not attributable to somebody by name.

So if this White House starts giving all this information on the record I would certainly welcome that and I think journalist would welcome that. But I think it`s also important to know that having an unnamed source does not mean that source is wrong or inaccurate. A lot of officials sometimes can`t speak on the record and it`s still important to give the information out that they have.

And that has been done for years and you look back at some of the amazing journalism of the last few decades. Not all of that is based on the record sources but generally, I agree. It`s always better to have it on the record source.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, thank you for joining us.

MASON: OK, my pleasure.

VAN SUSTEREN: And when we come back, what baseball has to do with President Trump`s big speech tomorrow night. That`s a tease.


VAN SUSTEREN: "For The Record" years ago I sat next to baseball great Franks Robertson at an Orioles game and he showed me much that baseball is so much more complex than just watching the ball and the swings. So o the diamond there are things that are done to spook the opponent like who`s warming up, the conversation between the catcher and the pitcher and so much more.

So it occurred to me, President Trump`s address to Congress tomorrow night is a bit like that where you may think the sole action is just the president speaking, there`ll be so much more going on in that political chamber that`s intended to spook political opponents so don`t be surprised if during President Trump`s speech he deliberately says certain things like make America great again, because he knows all the Republicans will stand and applaud.

And what do the Democrats do if they sit there, they`ll look like they don`t want America to be great. That would be awful for them. That`s right. And so that plays right into Trump`s game plan for the night. Or how about if Trump says this, bring the jobs back to America. If Democrats sit through that one while Republicans stand and clap, the Democrats will look like they don`t want jobs for fellow Americans. Oh brother, right. The games go on, don`t they? Oh yes, a bit like that baseball diamond. So much going on and so many traps set.

Thank you for watching. I`ll see you back tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. eastern in Washington, D.C. right then before the big speech. Good night from New York.


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