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For the Record with Greta, Transcript 3/16/2017

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Bill Kristol, Nicholas Kristof, Matthew Rosenberg, Diane Black, Diane Black, John Yarmuth, Nick Kristoff, Bill Kristol, Gordon Chang

Show: FOR THE RECORD Date: March 16, 2017 Guest: Chris Van Hollen, Bill Kristol, Nicholas Kristof, Matthew Rosenberg, Diane Black, Diane Black, John Yarmuth, Nick Kristoff, Bill Kristol, Gordon Chang GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, NBC NEWS HOST FOR THE RECORD:  Of course, I have Wisconsin going all the way winning, and beating Virginia tech starting tonight.  Thank you, Chuck for that. 

TODD:  Ok, great. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Tonight no evidence of a wiretap.  A stunning bipartisan rejection of President Trump claims that he was wiretapped by President Obama or any kind of surveillance at all.  But then, a bigger stunner, despite that joint statement of no evidence from the highest ranking Republican and Democrat, the White House is not backing down.  Democrats though are now calling for an apology.  But Sean Spicer, on behalf of the president is not going there, so what happens now and what will we hear from the FBI?  And also, battle lines are drawn over the new Trump budget.  Who are the winners?  Defense and border security, and who are the losers, the EPA, cancer research, meals on wheels and much more.  We`re going to talk to the top Democrat and top Republican on the budget committee. 

And tonight, Speaker Paul Ryan trying to stop the Republican revolt over his health care plan, the GOP rivals say the Republican health care bill is dead on arrival.  Most say that GOP health care bill is going to change, but the big question, how, and how much? 

President Trump`s surveillance claims of wiretap claim shut down.  The Senate intelligence committee saying, based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element in the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.  Now, that news broke right before White House press secretary Sean Spicer, was supposed to begin his briefing, he was more than an hour late.  And well, you just had to be there. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So Sean, are you saying that despite the findings, the bipartisan findings of the senate intelligence committee? 

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  No, they`re not findings.  There`s a statement out today, they have not begun this, as you know yesterday, two days ago, the Department of Justice asked nor an additional week.  The statement clearly says at this time, that they don`t believe that.  They have yet to go through the information. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you saying that the president still stands by his allegation that President Obama ordered wiretapping or surveillance of Trump Tower, despite the fact that the senate intelligence committee says they see there`s no issue that it happened. 

SPICER:  No, first of all, he stands by it.  You`re mischaracterizing what happened today is the question.  I believe he will. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know the senate and house intelligence committee.  Both leaders from both parties on both of those panels saying they don`t see any evidence of any wiretapping.  How can the president go on and continue --

SPICER:  Because that is not -- you`re mischaracterizing what Chairman Nunez said.  He said, I think it`s possible.  He is following up on this.  To suggest that is -- you`re stating unequivocally that you somehow -- you. 


SPICER:  Right and I think we`ve already cleared that up.  He said exactly that.  The president has already said clearly when he referred to wiretapping, he is referring to surveillance. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It sounds like you and the president are saying now.  We don`t mean wiretapping any more.  That is not true anymore. 

SPICER:  No, no, that is not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is it going to be next? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Going back to the fact that the president used wiretapping in quotes, last night he said it was very important it was in quotes.  Out of the four tweets where he accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping him, he only used quotes in two of them.  Does he feel like Trump tower was broadly surveilled? 

SPICER:  He was very clear about this last night.  He talked about it. 


SPICER:  Yeah, he was.  He meant it, he put it in quotes, and it was very broad.  I understand that, that is the point of them looking into this.  I think the idea is to look into this. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If all this comes out and there`s no proof that President Obama had any role in any wiretapping, there was no wiretapping.  Will president Trump then offer an apology? 

SPICER:  That is like three times this weekend, I think the answer is.  We`re not going to prejudge where the outcome of this is. 


SPICER:  No, hold on. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For the wiretapping, the house intelligence committee and senate intelligence committee --

SPICER:  No, here`s the quote.  I think it`s very possible, that is what he said when he said the president`s communication could have been swept up in collection. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Here`s what White House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunez said yesterday. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you have any reason to believe that the president himself or anyone working for him in the White House, would be one of these names that may have been swept up in something that could have ultimately related to what happened with Michael Flynn? 

DEVIN NUNES, REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  I think it`s very possible.  Like I said, we should know that by Friday.  We don`t have any evidence that that took place.  In fact, I -- I don`t believe just in the last week of time, the people we talked to, I don`t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Remember, it was the White House asking these committees to investigate, and tonight the president stands by his surveillance claims despite having any evidence.  Here`s what President Trump said last night. 


DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  For the most part, I`m not going to discuss it, because we have it before the committee, and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon.  That hasn`t been submitted as of yet. 

But it`s potentially a very serious situation.  And don`t forget, when I say wiretap, those words were in quotes, that really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old fashioned stuff, but that really covers surveillance and many other things.  Wiretap covers a lot of different things.  I think you`re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  With me, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from the great state of Maryland.  Good evening, sir. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  And I should add that late today, we got a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham saying, I strongly believe these statements by political leaders, that would be the House and Senate Intel Leaders, both sides of the aisle, should not be a substitute for a public response from the Department of Justice on the matter, it`s entirely acceptable for DOJ and FBI to make a simple statement that goes to the heart of the matter without jeopardizing classified information?  Are you satisfied (inaudible) with the house or senate or do you think Lindsey Graham that the FBI should be a sort of the final statement on this. 

VAN HOLLEN:  I`m satisfied with the bipartisan statements out of the house and senate intelligence committee.  I think it`s worth having the FBI weigh-in on this, obviously, FBI director Comey want to the do that, and I would welcome his statements.  But Greta, this just shows that we`ve got a really dangerous situation for the country.  I mean, this is obviously bad for the White House, but it`s bad for the country, when the credibility of the president of the United States is just zeroed out, entirely, because we need at least those in the global community to be able to take the words of the president seriously, and unfortunately, we`ve learned today on a bipartisan basis that that cannot be done. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, it seems that -- it`s a Tad bit turned upside down.  We`ve been talking about this for the last 10 or 12 days.  I went back and got a hard copy of the New York Times which is something that the Trump White House is hanging its hat on, and the hard copy, not the unlined copy said wiretap data used in inquiry of Trump aids.  That is what they`re saying.  I will add that we`ve had investigations by the house intel senate intel and they say that they have done an investigation, in fact, Senator Warren`s spokesperson said today, the bipartisan leaders of the intelligence committee would not have made the statement they made, without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities.  So even though this started as a legitimate concern of some sort by President Obama we`ve had all this since. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, look Greta, I don`t think there`s any basis for the Trump tweets to begin with, and the fact that the White House continues to try and spin head over heels in that clip you just played, just shows that the bottom continues to fall out of their credibility.  And the president has already been somebody who`s in this alternative universe, this alternative fact place, and this just goes to show they`re stuck there, and again, it`s bad enough for the president and the White House -- it`s a real danger for the country. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  In what way?  I have to admit I don`t like it, I don`t like this either.  We have gotten to the bizarre point, I don`t like this either.  I actually -- if these four senators and some of them are on the same party are saying they talked to people and it didn`t happen, you know that is where I am.  How do you see it as dangerous? 

VAN HOLLEN:  I see it dangerous, because when the president of the United States makes very serious accusations, accusing a former president of essentially breaking the law.  And then we discover on a bipartisan basis that is not just true, there`s no basis for those statements.  The question, of course arises, can you ever trust what the president says at moments that it will matter to the country?  And in terms of every day conversations he has with the country and with international leaders.  So, I think it is really dangerous, we heard a lot of alternative facts during the campaign.  We continue to hear them after the Inaugural, but this one had that seriousness, because it essentially accused a former president of breaking the law.  It does not be fitting the office of the president or somebody to be making those baseless claims. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I hear a lot of that discussion inside the beltway.  Then I look at last night with President Trump in Nashville and I know he has thousands of supporters across the country.  They think the media`s making a big deal out of this, the Democrats are, and some Republicans, I mean his supporters are very strong right now.  I don`t think they think this is dangerous. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well let me say this, we heard candidate Trump saying during the campaign, he could walk down a street of New York and shoot people, his supporters would still be with him.  You know what?  That is disturbing and it may be true with respect to his core supporters as this president puts out more policies that are totally inconsistent with the promises that he made during the campaign trail.  I think a lot of those people who supported Trump with some hesitation are going to see this for what it is.  And today the Trump budget came down.  I can tell you the Trump budget betrays many of the promises and commitments that he made to his supporters and things he said on the campaign trail that others in the country may have liked. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Senator, thank you for joining us, it`s the first time I`ve been able to call you senator.  I`ve called you congressman for so many years, but congratulations on your win and thank you for joining us. 

VAN HOLLEN:  It`s great to be on your new show.  Thanks, Greta. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Bill Kristol is the founder and editor of the Weekly Standard and Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for the New York Times.  Nick first to you.  We have the house Intel committee.  We have the senate Intel committee saying no evidence.  Where does this take us? 

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST:  Well I think it was pretty clear right from the beginning, there was no evidence of President Obama wiretapping President Trump, but now you have Republicans confirming that, I guess I question how much of an impact that has on Trump supporters, after all, he said years ago, that within days he was presenting definitive evidence that President Obama was born in Kenya, that never emerged.  He was going to present definitive evidence of massive voter fraud that never emerged.  The evidence he was talking about now will never emerge either.  It undermines the credibility of the U.S., and when there`s a North Korea crisis for example.  And President Trump makes an announcement to the world and appeals to support for allies, American credibility will be called into question.  It will distract from what I think is a more important national security issue, that is the allegations of collusion between elements of Trump campaign and Russia, which are unproven, but absolutely we need to focus on. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Bill, where do you see this?  There was the whole controversy, I mean Donald Trump will be pushed the whole birther movement and that is gone away.  That is completely moved off everyone`s radar screen.  Is this going to move off everyone`s radar?  Is this different? 

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD FOUNDER AND EDITOR:  I think it`s different because he is president.  Private Citizens can say irresponsible things.  Candidates can say irresponsible things.  President of the United States -- that is a very different matter.  And he is saying he is got the White House spokesman standing behind him.  Donald Trump says the podium should say president of the United States on the seal.  It`s not Trump tower any more, defending Trump.  He is articulating the judgments of the president of the United States. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  What`s the real impact?  I mean even Speaker Ryan was just down with Chuck Todd in Meet the Press, I mean nobody -- his own party is not defending him.  We keep saying credibility, but what sort of -- tell me some real impact. 

KRISTOL:  I mean it`s hard to know. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  It`s so unusual situations. 

KRISTOL:  It is so unusual.  It`s hard to measure the impact.  How much damage does it take for people to get used to a reckless sitting president and in two weeks we`ll know more and then in two weeks if we don`t.  Will he then say I was wrong on this?  It does damage the general level of public discourse, you know it`s hard to know, at the end of the day, some of his supporters are going to dismiss this, I think it`s hurting him.  I actually don`t agree with the people that say, this doesn`t affect his support.  It is funny, Trump just makes I it. 

You know, Trump will be president, he won`t be a very good president, but he`ll do what he does.  We need to focus on getting the conservative agenda back on track.  I would love to have some fresh thinking.  We can talk more about those issues on this show, and then this happens you get pulled back into the Trump swamp, why are we discussing this?  It`s trivial.  They were saying compared to North Korea or health care or whatever, it is kind of important that the actual president of the United States is staying things that are false and reckless and having the entire having a spokesman back him up. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Nick, in terms of our intelligence committee, they`re the ones, especially the FBI they must be sitting there wanting to say something, I know they`re -- the FBI director Jim Comey is going to speak on Monday, but there was at least one report that the FBI director will ask the justice department to be able to speak out.  Any thoughts on what this is -- if this is having any impact on the FBI? 

KRISTOF:  I don`t know firsthand from my own reporting, what I understand is that there`s a real feeling in the FBI being demoralized, being accused of being a pawn in some kind of President Obama power gain for political purposes against President Trump that is not what they did.  And in fact is not how Washington works.  There is a clear process for probable cause, in the criminal area, through FISA warrants in the intelligence arena, the idea that the president is calling J. Edgar Hoover and asking him to drop in a bug in Trump Tower, that is not how the world works in 2017. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  It is wild, isn`t it?  This whole thing, I sit here and watch Spicer today, and watch this whole thing --

KRISTOL:  If you were to believe Trump, you would believe the FBI director is lying.  People supporting the FBI director are lying. 

There`s a big conspiracy, 20, 50, 100 career civil servants and intelligence officers who are purposely doing something illegal. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I think people probably could have thought we read all the investigations about Russia and our election.  Anyone who`s having a conversation with Russia, people are always spying on the Russians, but they would be picked up in a sweep.  That was the big difference. 

KRISTOL:  He is saying that others did it at the direction of President Obama, knowing it was illegal.  It does sort of cast doubt on the integrity of large numbers of people working at the U.S. government, doesn`t it? 

VAN SUSTEREN:  I don`t know.  Anyway we`ll take a quick break. 

Nick and Bill, stick around, we`re going to take a break.  Up next, looking for the source of the wiretap claim, we`re going to talk to New York Times reporters, does his reporting support what they`re saying. 

Plus a battle over the Trump budget, a big boost for defense, some other programs on the chopping block. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We can`t spend money on programs just because they sound good, great meals on wheels sounds great. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  And there`s terrifying new video from our past made public for the first time.  We will tell you why we`re talking about it today?  And what it has to do with a top diplomatic mission by the Secretary of State. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you believe the president, though, when he says that President Obama wiretapped Trump tower? 

SPICER:  That is what I said, we cleared that up, and that we see no evidence of that. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  We`re back following the breaking news, the senate intelligence committee just a short time ago, saying there is no evidence of surveillance at Trump tower.  This is President Trump last night. 


TRUMP:  I`ve been reading about things, I read in -- I think it was January 20th, the New York Times article, where they were talking about wiretapping, there was an article.  I think they used that exact term.  I read other things. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why not wait to tweet about it until you can prove it, the value of your words when you can`t provide evidence. 

TRUMP:  Well because the New York Times wrote about it, not that I respect the New York Times, I call it the failing New York Times, but they wrote on January 20th, using the word wiretap. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  You can see the word wiretap was used in the print headline on January 20th and it did appear twice in the story, the online version has a different headline, Intercepted Russian Communications part of inquiries to Trump associates.  It did not assert that Mr. Obama had ordered surveillance on Mr. Trump, nor did it mention Mr. Obama, rather the story referred to intercepted information collected overseas. 

Matthew Rosenberg is one of the reporters on that story, And a National Security Reporter for the New York Times, nice to see you Matt. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  It did not say in the article that President Obama wiretapped candidate Trump? 

ROSENBURG:  It actually, supposed he said that, that there was no indication he was, that we didn`t know that and then trust me, I`ve said this before, if we knew that someone was surveilling President Trump, we would write that, that is a great story.  We don`t know it.  It doesn`t seem to have happened.  And I`m honored to be cited by the president, I guess, it`s a complete misreading of the story. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why do you think he is doing that? 

ROSENBURG:  It comes out, goes online the night of January 19th, on March 3rd, there`s right wing talk radio talking about how the president was under surveillance.  On March 4th, he is tweeting about this.  It`s a pretty big distance.  Then it takes another two weeks, before he finds the reason why he tweeted.  In that time, you had info wars and a bunch of other fringe websites and news sites coming up with a theory, justification after the fact.  The New York Times are the ones that reported it, therefore, we have the evidence, it`s the New York Times, and they`re against us.  It`s bizarre and --

VAN SUSTEREN:  Who did get caught in this wiretap and where was this wiretap? 

ROSENBURG:  A lot of it was Russians talking to Russians about contact with Trump associates.  It was not, you know they were surveilling this person or that person. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  It wasn`t me calling a Russian and getting caught in the sweep? 


VAN SUSTEREN:  It was Russian to Russians rather than one of the Trump associates or someone making a call to a Russian? 

ROSENBURG:  There may have been some of that.  We know that was the case with General Flynn, he was caught talking to the Russian ambassador.  We`ve been monitoring the Russian ambassador since 1919 probably?  We tap his phones, yes.  That is where these guys get caught up.  We don`t have any indication that Trump, or Trump tower were under surveillance. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Your sources are they -- just generally, your national security.  Your job is national security.  Are they upset by this at all?  How are they feeling?  The survey is being played in the public domain? 

ROSENBURG:  You know, I think its two ways, you have people who have left the former administration, who are going to be upset by most of this, and they`re inherently not in favor of the current president.  You have a lot of career officials, people who have given their life to this, who are still in the government.  They`re most upset by this, because they know they never presented this to the president.  He is saying, basically, your work doesn`t matter, I have my own sources.  That is deeply insulting to people in the CIA and FBI who don`t get rich doing their work and offer us their lives doing it. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Matt, thank you. 

ROSENBURG:  Thank you very much. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ahead, Speaker Paul Ryan promising changes in the GOP health care bill.  Will it be enough to get the votes within its own party? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There really isn`t a great deal of unity over Paul Ryan`s replacement plan.  It`s false for him to go around saying, you guys ran on my plan.  The heck we did. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Also do you like defense and border security?  How about the EPA, Meals on wheels?  Well the new White House budget sparking a tough debate on America`s priorities.  We will talk to the two top lawmakers on the budget committee that is next. 



PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER:  This is always going to be an open process where we get feedback from people, we get feedback from members, we get feedback from people, and we incorporate that feedback. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Paul Ryan saying problems are rallying around the GOP health care bill.  And today the bill did squeak through the house budget committee.  Three Republicans voted against it, a possible sign of trouble ahead, meanwhile, a fight opening on another front, President Trump releasing his 2018 budget, calling for more funding for the defense department, homeland security and veteran`s affairs, b big cuts for the State Department, Education Department, EPA and the Housing Department.  The president`s budget director Mick Mulvaney defending cuts and programs like meals on wheels. 


MICK MULVANEY, BUDGET DIRECTOR:  We can`t spend money on programs just because they sound good, meals on wheels sounds great, again, that is a state decision to fund that particular horse.  Take the federal money give it to the states, say, we want to give you money for programs that don`t work, I can`t defend that any more. 


VAN SUSTEREN:  Joining me, House budget Committee Chair and registered Nurse Congresswoman Diane Black, Republican from the great state of Tennessee, nice to see you congresswoman. 

DIANE BLACK, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR AND REGISTERED NURSE:  Great to be with you, Greta.  Thank you for having me. 

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ok, your chair for the budget committee, but before we get to that, from your position, your former job as a registered nurse.  You are still a registered Nurse, are you satisfied that this GOP bill is the best for care for the patient? 

BLACK:  I am still, I am interested in still seeing some changes, Greta. This is not the end. We`re continuing to talk and make the bill better, I want at the end of the day to being sure that all of the folks are going to have an opportunity to have affordable accessible care.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But having an opportunity, and you know this from your own career as a nurse doesn`t mean that people always going to go on time, you know, they need preventive care. They need colonoscopies before they get colon cancer. I mean, does this bill provide those opportunities for people who are lower income or maybe even, you know, poor so they can get that necessary preventive care?

BLACK:  Yes, Greta, we`re putting a lot of pieces in place and so, you know, a big portion of our population, over 60 percent of our population get their health care through their health care insurance through their employer. And then we have folks that are on Medicaid, that`s a different population. And then we have people that are just unable to get through employers and they don`t qualify for Medicaid and so we`re trying to look at all three of those populations and to make sure that we have something in place to get access to people in each one of those areas.

VAN SUSTEREN:  I don`t detect they`re fully embracing this, I don`t know. Maybe it`s my imagination but I detect there`s some things you don`t like about this.

BLACK:  There are always pieces that can be made better and that`s the reason why we`re going through the regular order. It`s been through two committees already. It went through my committee today. We actually sent some instructions to our rules committee because as you know, we cannot amend this bill. What the process is, is that our budget committee is there to say that the two committees that gave us the plans, their bills, that they met the reconciliation instructions that we gave to them, but we`re not able to amend it.

However, we were able to get an opportunity for our committee to have four different areas of instruction that they`re sending to the rules committee that will again make the bill better. We are going to just stay in the fight here. This is not the end. This is regular order. And you know what Greta, I`m really glad after being here for seven years and I`m experiencing regular order. We are in the (INAUDIBLE) of last six years.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, if you could amend it. If you had a magic wand and everybody to take your amendment, what would it be?

BLACK:  Well, one of those is that I think we ought to give states opportunity to have more control over when they get their Medicaid dollars. Right now in the bill, there`s a per capita. Some of the states actually want to have block grants that give them much more latitude to do what they want to do with their Medicaid dollars. I am for that. That was one of the provisions that we passed out of our committee today and passed along for suggestion to the rules committee to consider. It actually is our blueprint, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Do you have the votes in the full house because I take it you`re not going to get -- I don`t think you`re going to get Democrats to vote. Do you have enough Republicans without those republicans who don`t like it to pass this?

BLACK:  I don`t know the answer to that. I know there was (INAUDIBLE)on yesterday. I`m not privy to that information. But I can tell you that we`re still working and that is something that I`ll continue to say because America hasn`t seen this. They haven`t seen regular order.

I haven`t seen regular order. It`s been six years that I`ve been here, now my seventh year, we`re finally seeing a process that really works along the way. Ease (ph) up along the way, the bill gets made better and we still have steps to go yet.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.

BLACK:  You`re very welcome. Thank you for having me Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN:  President Trump making the case on health care with some campaign style rallies. He was in Nashville last week and next week he`ll head to Kentucky, the same state that Vice President Pence travelled to last weekend.

Joining me, Democratic Kentucky congressman John Yarmuth. He`s the ranking member of the House Democratic Committee. Today, Congressman Yarmuth voted no in the budget committee to the GOP health care bill. Good evening sir.

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY:  Hello Greta. Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Good to have you. Why I know you don`t like the bill because you voted no, but before we get to that, would you have been content just to have -- would Obamacare have been fine just to sort of go on the next few years or was there -- was it going to collapse?

YARMUTH:  No, it wasn`t going to collapse. I think all of us recognize that there`s a problem in the individual insurance market, we have put safe guards in place to help mitigate the losses that some insurance companies might experience if they got disproportionate amount of sick people. That`s happened. The Republicans actually sabotaged the system and cut funding for that.

So, we do have a problem with the individual market and we need to figure out how to correct that. The rest of the ACA is working just fine. The Medicaid expansion is working fine. We have the lowest rate of increase in both group insurance and Medicare premiums and costs in 50 years. So a lot is going well with the Affordable Care Act. We do have a problem in the individual market which by the way only affects about 6 percent of the population.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Al right. Was the Medicaid group -- was that expanding from year to year to year? 

YARMUTH:  The Medicaid --

VAN SUSTEREN:  The number of people in Medicaid. Was that a growing number?

YARMUTH:  It actually does grow year to year to year but people come and go off of -- oh, I`m sorry, Medicare, yes. We know that --

VAN SUSTEREN:  Medicaid. Medicaid.

YARMUTH:  Oh, Medicaid, I`m sorry. It`s noisy in here. In Medicaid, we know that people come and go off Medicaid very frequently. They get on and then they find work and they do better and they get off Medicaid. So, we expect that the numbers will be -- depends really, Greta, on how many of the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid decide ultimately to do it. If they do it, the obviously there`ll be more people on Medicaid. If they don`t, then we expect that number to remain relatively constant.

VAN SUSTEREN:  All right, well, hypothetically, if those states only decide to do Medicaid expansion and with the federal government paying 90 percent to 10 percent what the states do, that`s obviously got a huge price tag. I want to take care of people from, you know, I want people to have access to health care, but I`m trying to think how do we work these numbers?

YARMUTH:  Well, I mean, the original plan, the ACA when we passed it, the numbers were actually projected very well. We reduced the deficit by about $125 billion in the first 10 years, by $1 trillion in the second years. So we anticipated that and the mistake in the CBO numbers basically resulted because the Supreme Court said that we couldn`t force states to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well then I don`t understand, I get so many e-mail complaints about Obama. I`m sure a lot of people got a lot of nice things to say about it too but I focus on the complaint. People are saying that like in Arizona, the premiums go up skyrocket, more than 100 percent. I mean these catastrophic numbers, these co-pays that people -- they`re punishing people because they -- I`m not saying punishing people because -- they`re punishing to people who can`t pay them. So I`m hearing these horror stories.

YARMUTH:  Again, that`s in a couple of states and that relates only to the individual insurance market where there is a problem. That`s not the rest of the insurance market and we`re talking again about 6 percent of the population. We need to work on that. What the Republican proposal does is make it worse because they take away the subsidies for the premiums, which by the way rose with the amount of the premium increase. So, even though premiums might have increased by 50 or 70 percent, the subsidies were increasing at a proportionate rate so the individual does not add any more money. What the Republicans do --

VAN SUSTEREN:  But the subsidies have a cost. I mean, we got to get the subsidies from some place?

YARMUTH:  That`s right, they do. And at the core of it is we have to do something about health care cost in general. You know, one of the things that we wanted to do is deal with prescription drug cost and we haven`t gotten any cooperation from the other side on that.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well we got a lot of work to do. Anyway, congressman, thank you very much for joining us.

YARMUTH:  Thanks Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Coming up, the big picture on the Trump agenda. We`ll be back with Nick Kristoff and Bill Kristol, that`s next.



SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA:  No interest in particularly embarrassing the president. He wanted to back away and correct himself. But we`re 12, 13 days, almost two weeks from his tweet. We`ve seen no evidence. If he`s got more information, share it with at least the intelligence committee or retract his statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN:  Senator Mark Warner talking about the wiretap controversy. It`s a cloud that`s been hanging over the Trump White House for nearly two weeks. And NBC`s first read (ph) pointed out the President`s agenda is now "stuck in the mud." The travel ban has been blocked and the GOP health care plan seems to be unraveling.

A new FNC poll shows that among those opposed to the plan, 67 percent say it changes Obamacare too much and 21 percent say it doesn`t change Obamacare enough. But there is some good news for President Trump, 51 percent say he is fulfilling more promises than other presidents and supporters of his support -- and thousands of his supporters showing up last night at his rally in Nashville.

Some stood in line for more than 12 hours to see him. Back with me, Bill Kristol and Nicholas Kristof. Nick, I think if I had been president -- nobody has actually voted me to be president or speaker of the house -- I would have started with infrastructure and not health care because there`s a little bit for someone in that. Some people get jobs and some people don`t have to drive over potholes. I mean, it seems like it would have been a better way to start an administration.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES:  Absolutely. Well, I mean more broadly. Every president until now has always started off trying to reach out and to build political capital initially. And instead President Trump really hit almost a concerted effort to squander political capital by focusing on base and then indeed focusing on repealing Obamacare.

And I do indeed think that`s one reason why his agenda is stalled. I think that`s a fair assessment. I do have to say though that, I mean I, while I think his agenda in building things up is stalled, I do worry about his capacity to still bring things down and you know, in the case o health care, I think it`s -- it sure looks like that health care bill is going to spiral down the drain.

But it may well be that he is also, if nothing gets through, he`s going to preside over the collapse of Obamacare by essentially undoing the mandate with just -- with nothing to replace it.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And it will be called Trumpcare at that point?

KRISTOF:  And, I mean, he will own it but at that point, you will have millions of people who will lose health care insurance and the various estimates are that, you know, some are between 25,000 and 50,000 extra deaths would arrive each year. That`s one extra death every 15 minutes as a result of that. And he would blame President Obama for creating supposedly unsustainable health care system.

Democrats would squaff (ph), his supporters would explain it but the bottom line is, at the end of the day an awful lot more people would die. And then you look internationally, and you know, he has constraints domestically on his agenda. If he wants to do something very risky with North Korea, he doesn`t have a lot of constraints and that`s one thing that keeps me up in the middle of the night as well.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD:  I think he has a pretty big constraint there. Secretary of defense Jim Mattis, I do not believe fully he`s doing very risky things nor does H.R. McMaser, the National Security Advisor. So I think it will turn out that Trump --

VAN SUSTEREN:  See I think he`s --

KRISTOL:  -- more constrained on substantive matters than people might have thought.

VAN SUSTEREN:  I think his unpredictability actually is something that may benefit him with North Korea, in a peculiar way because, I mean that guy, Kim Jong-Un is so unpredictable and I actually don`t think that Trump would, you know, with the second of defense there, I don`t think he`s going to do anything, you know, wildly --

KRISTOL:  We are in a kind of crazy, I mean they`re going to try different substance on his policies but we are in this highly bizarre position that someone like me is hoping that the secretary of defense and the national security adviser constrains Trump to a more responsible course on the same drastic policy, and I tend to think that does happen on a lot of issues.

But it`s also true that how much damage is done by this -- by doing that executive order in the first week. I`m quite hardlined on the war on terror but now if you try to pursue it more sensibly let`s say, I don`t know, escalate the war against ISIS, to do everything that might be important.

There were same things in Homeland Security that might be important. It`s not as if we may --

VAN SUSTEREN:  But why can`t --

KRISTOL:  -- Homeland Security. He`s now discredited it by doing this initial executive order in such a sloppy and haphazard and foolish and mean-spirited way. And the same with health care, I`m for conservative informed agenda on health care. I think there are better ways to do it than Obamacare. Honestly, can I go out now and give, you know, give a talk or write an article that says there is a serious Republican alternative after this fiasco we`ve seen?

VAN SUSTEREN:  Yes, and like the thing that sort of bothers me about Washington is that it doesn`t seem like Capitol Hill can multitask. Every single person is probably watching TV (inaudible) probably also making dinner, probably picking up toys from the floor, doing all sorts of -- but you know, we do one -- congress is like we`re doing health care. Why can`t they do infrastructure simultaneously, if something that -- you know why can`t they do all these other projects in which people might find or tax reform -- any of these.

KRISTOF:  Well, I guess one thing that troubles me is that President Trump and the administration have approached national security, which is of course a concern that everybody shares through this very narrow prism, just a military buildup and the security is indeed one of those things that you assure not only by bombing things, but also with the diplomacy by environmental regulations. I mean our greatest national security threat in the last decade was probably the risk of Ebola killing many, many Americans, and that was stopped with foreign aid in West Africa, which is one thing --

VAN SUSTEREN:  Let me just say one thing. Let me do a tease, there`s a new Ebola movie coming out that I`ve already seen that is actuall breathtaking Nick that I want you to see because I know you`d like it, but I got to take a break. But anyway, both of you, thank you very much.

KRISTOF:  Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Ahead, a truly stunning video, the government declassified never before seen nuclear weapons tests from 60 years ago, why it matters now, and what the secretary of state is saying today.


VAN SUSTEREN:  In just a few minutes, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson departing Japan and heading to South Korea and tensions over at North Korea`s nuclear program. And tonight I have something new to show you, it highlights what the stakes are as we talk about this issue. These are newly declassified U.S. government videos of nuclear weapons tests from the 1950s. Vivid illustrations of the destructive power of nuclear weapons.

That pacific island is still uninhabitable six decades later. And this is a test from 1955 at a site in Nevada called Area 2. It`s part of a series of 14 tests known as Operation Teapot. And here`s another from that operation, the government made about 7,000 videos of nuclear tests which you`ll remember those videos as we think about North Korea`s recent missile tests. This morning, Secretary Tillerson said the  U.S. needs to rethink its approach.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  The diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have failed.  So we have 20 years of failed approach.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Gordon Chang is an Asia expert, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World." Nice to see you Gordon.

GORDON CHANG, ASIAN EXPERT:  Thank you so much.

VAN SUSTEREN:  OK, everything is going in the wrong direction. They`ve had five nuclear tests. They`ve had increasing number of ballistic missile tests. There is no sign that anything is good. We`ve been nice to them, mean to them, sanctions, we`ve threatened them, we`ve talked to them in six-party talks, what`s left to do?

CHANG:  There`s only one strategy left to pursue. That`s to impose severe cause on China for supporting their nuclear weapons ballistic missile programs plus their illicit activities. Now, we haven`t done that.


CHANG:  Because I think that we`ve put the priority of integrating China into the international system at much higher level than disarming North Korea. This goes back to the administration of George W. Bush and the start of the six-party talks in 2003. But what we`ve ended up with is a very arrogant Beijing and a nuked up North Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Well, you know, the thing is if we look at North Korea, it`s not just nuclear weapons, they have conventional weapons. They even have chemical weapons. Look at the half-brother who was just murdered. I mean, we got so (INAUDIBLE) and it`s got the (INAUDIBLE) I mean, everything going in the direction of very bad.

CHANG:  Yes, well, they already got three missiles that can hit the lower 48 states. Now they haven`t been tested or adequately tested but they`re based on proven technologies. So within about four years or so, they`ll be able to make a nuke to those and then hold us to ransom. They also can now make a nuke to an intermediate range missile and that can reach American forces in Asia.

VAN SUSTEREN:  What is the Trump policy towards North Korea if you can identify?

CHANG:  They don`t have one yet. It takes a long time to do this. Also, it`s very, very complicated because you`re dealing not just with North Korea, you`re dealing with Iran, Pakistan and of course China. Now, Tillerson`s brief from the White House was a couple things. One of them was to actually find out what China`s position is and how far they can push them. And they need to know that before they can then make up theire own policy, but it`s going to take them quite some time.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And I don`t mean to be critical of the Trump administration because the Obama, the Bush, the Clinton, nobody else has been able to solve this as well. But now we`ve also got the new dynamic we saw last week, the president of South Korea got the boot and she was more of a hard line. So now we`re dealing with someone who is a little bit more moderate but I don`t know what that`s going to tell us, at least we expect that.

CHANG:  Right. May 9th there`s going to be an election. It would probably be a so-called progressive and for the first time in about four or five years, there`s going to be a lot of daylight between the positions of Seoul and Washing on North Korea.

VAN SUSTEREN:  But the new one is expected to want to talk more and communicate more, have more diplomacy with North Korea which frankly hasn`t worked and neither is the hard line one, the one who just got booted.

CHANG:  Right. And also, a new president, if it comes from the progressive camp will probably want to curtail a THAAD missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. The U.S. has just deployed that in South Korea, the Chinese are furious over it. And a new South Korean government may sort of try to appease Beijing on this by limiting deployment or actually even reversing deployment.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Gordon, thank you.

CHANG:  Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN:  And coming up, I`ve been betrayed big time. I`ll tell you the full story, next.


VAN SUSTEREN:  I have something to say for the record, well, it`s finally started, March Madness, the NCAA tournament. Now, we so need this because it is a well needed annual diversion from the wild controversy that swirled around Washington. Boy, do we have those controversies this year.

We are so drowning in fights here. So yesterday, before I anchored our show live on Capitol Hill, I ran into two members of congress, Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. Now those two men, they`ve been my friends for a number of years, friends of my shows.

So, I have every reason to believe that they would both make the right decision in selecting this year`s NCAA winner. But alas, both of them, the two members of congress failed me. They`ve betrayed me. Both of them.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH:  I picked K.U. to win. I`m sorry cheese head, but I want K.U.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Why did you not?

CHAFFETS:  You (INAUDIBLE) didn`t have a team in the tournament so I had to pick a real winner, I couldn`t just take my --

VAN SUSTEREN:  I previously told everybody if you want to watch picking them that if you and Dowdy didn`t pick Wisconsin, I would never talk to you again.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Did you pick Wisconsin to win?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINS: I picked Virginia Tech. I cannot tell a lie.

VAN SUSTEREN:  Why didn`t you pick Wisconsin?

GOWDY:  Had I known I was going win with you or with you. That`s my honest answer.


VAN SUSTEREN:  Can you believe it, those guys doing that to my Badgers? Yes, of course. I`m just kidding, but yes, go Badgers. And thank you for watching tonight. I`ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. eastern. And listen, go to my Facebook page because there`s so much going on in my Facebook page. A lot videos, behind the scenes. And I also want you to follow me on twitter @Greta. Make sure you go there. And the great thing about twitter, you could say horrible mean nasty things to me and you can do it anonymously. I`m just kidding.

Anyway, "Hardballl" with Chris Matthews starts right now.